Aortic Stenosis is a common condition when the aortic valve, a crucial doorway that opens to let blood out of the heart, then closes to protect the heart from back flow, becomes very narrow, straining the heart's ability to deliver blood to the rest of the body. This can result in fatigue, fainting, shortness of breath, chest pain and even sudden death
The good news is that aortic valve stenosis can be treated effectively with surgery. For the heart to work properly, blood must flow in only one direction. The heart’s valves make this possible. Healthy valves open and close in a precise way as the heart pumps blood.
Surgery is often necessary when the aortic valve does not open or close correctly, or when narrowing of the valve becomes severe and symptoms such as irregular heart rhythms, chest pain and/or shortness of breath develop. Through surgery, the valve through which your heart pumps blood and opens up the passageway to the aorta — your body’s largest artery — is replaced.
Aortic Valve Replacement
Usually, the heart valve can’t be repaired and must be replaced. During aortic valve replacement surgery, the surgeon removes the narrowed aortic valve and replaces it with a mechanical valve or a tissue valve. Mechanical valves, made from metal, are durable but require the patient to take blood-thinning medications for the rest of his or her life. Tissue valves eventually need to be replaced after some time.
Having aortic valve replacement depends on a number of factors, including:
- How severe your valve disease is.
- Your age and general health.
- Whether you need heart surgery for other conditions, such as bypass surgery to treat chronic heart disease. Bypass surgery and valve surgery can be done at the same time.
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
If you or a loved one has been told you need a new heart valve as a result of severe aortic stenosis, an advanced surgical treatment option exists. Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) is less invasive than a traditional open-heart aortic valve replacement for patients who are either too sick or high-risk for open-heart surgery. The procedure allows a new valve to be inserted into the native, diseased aortic valve through one of four approaches: an incision in the leg (transfemoral), an incision in the chest between the ribs (transapical), through the subclavian artery or transaortic.