Aortic Stenosis

torsoAnt-locations250On my previous post, I mentioned that I learned how to perform an auscultation. This is using a stethoscope to listen for sounds from the inside of the body, including the heart,lungs, and abdomen. Auscultation is an effective, preventative method against many medical conditions. The diagram shows points on the body where the stethoscope is placed to listen for the sounds.

Auscultation of the heart:

The doctor should listen for the sounds that the heart makes, how often the sounds are being repeated, and how loud the sound is. A regular heart produces rhythmic sounds described as a repetitive ‘lub-dub.’

One condition that can be detected by an auscultation is aortic stenosis. Aortic stenosis is the most common valvular heart disease in the world. It is the narrowing of the aortic valve, causing a restriction of blood flow through the valve. This makes it harder for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body.

Aortic stenosis can be caused in different ways, one of them being Congenital Heart Defect (CHD). This is a condition when there is either one (unicuspid), two (bicuspid), or four (quadricuspid) cusps rather than the normal three. A cusp is a flap of tissue in the aortic valve. Aortic stenosis can also be a result of a build-up of calcium on the valve, causing stiffening and narrowing of the aortic valve. Rheumatic fever involves inflammation of the heart’s valves, which in turn can cause scar tissue. Scar tissue is a rough surface that contributes to the collection of calcium deposits.

There are many symptoms of aortic stenosis, which are:

  • Angina (chest pain) and tightness
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling faint
  • Heart murmurs
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath

Medications can be used to control the symptoms, however surgery is the only method able to completely eliminate aortic stenosis. It is only recommended if the condition is severe.

aortic valve in tratment bitThe most common treatment is transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). this procedure is the most common treatment, as it is without the requirement of open heart surgery therefore less invasive.It involves replacing the valve with a prosthetic valve, via the femoral artery in the leg (transfemoral), or via the left ventricular apex of the heart (transapical). A catheter with a balloon and replacement valve at the end is inserted into the aortic valve, by an incision in the leg or chest. The balloon is then inflated, which expands the replacement valve. The balloon deflates, and the catheter is removed, leaving behind the replacement valve in the aorta.

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