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Aortic stenosis is a heart condition in which the aortic valve has become abnormally narrowed. It takes years for this condition to develop and then advance in severity. For that reason, aortic valve treatment is closely related to the progression of the condition, and there is no single standard treatment for an individual who has been diagnosed with this disorder. Aortic valve treatment might consist of mere observation, in the case of patients who have no detectable symptoms; might include certain medications or restrictions on the patient's activities; or might be as serious as open heart surgery, for those who have severe aortic stenosis.
Generally speaking, the aortic stenosis treatment for individuals who have not yet developed the classic symptoms of the disease is to be placed under general medical observation until symptoms present themselves. After aortic stenosis has been diagnosed, the classic symptoms that doctors watch for are fatigue, tightness or pain in the chest and shortness of breath during periods of increased activity. Patients who have mild aortic stenosis but who have yet to develop symptoms will usually have no restrictions on their activities. Most likely, these patients probably will be examined at least annually and have periodic echocardiograms to follow the progression of this form of stenosis.
Although there aren’t any drugs that can reverse aortic stenosis, patients at any stage of the condition might be prescribed medications to help control some of the symptoms or slow the progression of the disease. A doctor might prescribe medications to treat heart rhythm disturbances or ease some of the symptoms of heart failure. Research indicates that keeping cholesterol low helps slow down the development of aortic stenosis, so it’s possible that a cholesterol-lowering medication might also be used as part of aortic stenosis treatment.
Aortic stenosis treatment for individuals who have moderate aortic stenosis usually includes advice to avoid strenuous activities such as weightlifting, walking on a treadmill or jogging. After the narrowing of the valve has become severe enough that symptoms have developed, the only aortic stenosis treatment available is surgery to repair or replace the valve. Without surgery, the average patient who has severe aortic stenosis will survive for less than five years.
Valve replacement is the most common aortic stenosis treatment because it is the only one that can actually eliminate the problem. Open heart surgery is required in order to replace an aortic valve. During this surgery, the aortic valve is replaced with either a tissue valve or a mechanical valve. Each type of valve has advantages and disadvantages. A patient who is scheduled for this surgery will choose the type of valve in consultation with his or her heart surgeon.
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