The aortic valve is tremendously important, controlling blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. In aortic stenosis, the valve does not open fully, restricting blood flow from the heart. In aortic regurgitation, the valve opening does not close completely, causing blood to leak backward into the heart.
Either of these conditions can cause the heart muscle to pump harder and blood flow to the body may decrease, which can ultimately lead to heart failure. Aortic stenosis and regurgitation may occur with age, often in those older than 70. However, in patients with other heart conditions, aortic stenosis or regurgitation can occur much earlier.
Aortic Stenosis Symptoms
Aortic stenosis and regurgitation may be mild and not produce symptoms. However, over time, the aortic valve may become narrower, resulting in a variety of symptoms including:
- Weakness or chest pain (often increasing with activity)
- Palpitations (rapid, noticeable heart beats)
- Chronic heart failure
- Blood clots to the brain (stroke), intestines, kidneys, or other areas
- High blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
Physicians at the Emory Heart & Vascular Center offer a variety of treatment options for patients with severe aortic stenosis. Physicians at Emory perform transcatheter aortic valve replacement for inoperable patients, high risk patients, as well as medium risk patients. Minimally invasive surgical aortic valve replacement can be done in those who are low-risk patients.
The results of aortic valve replacement are often excellent. During transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), Emory interventional cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons place a new valve inside the heart without stopping the heart or opening the chest. Patients often recover more quickly from this minimally invasive approach.
About Dr. Thourani
Dr. Thourani has been heavily involved in the research for structural heart and with the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement trials. Other areas of focus are: valve disease, percutaneous and minimally invasive valve applications, biomedical engineering for treatment of new valve prosthesis and techniques, myocardial protection, coronary artery disease.
Dr. Thourani is the Professor of Surgery, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Emory Hospital Midtown, and the Co-Director of the Emory Structural Heart and Valve Center.