Answers to Common Aortic Stenosis Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about aortic stenosis.

How is aortic stenosis diagnosed?

Aortic stenosis (AS) is typically diagnosed first at a routine exam. According to National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus low blood pressure may be a symptom of aortic stenosis; if you are hypotensive, your doctor may suspect valve disease. Using a stethoscope, your doctor can detect a rushing sound characteristic of a restricted aortic valve. If this murmur is detected, further tests may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.

The Mayo Clinic outlines a number of tests used to diagnose aortic stenosis including:

  • Echocardiogram
    Ultrasound waves are used to create images of structures in the heart, allowing doctors to see the aortic valve as it opens and closes
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
    Electrodes placed on the skin measure electrical impulses, which may indicate if the left ventricular wall is thickened or enlarged (a common result of aortic stenosis)
  • Chest X-ray
    X-ray images allow the doctor to see if part of the heart is enlarged and/or see calcium deposits on the aortic valve
  • Cardiac catheterization (angiography)
    Small tubes (catheters) are threaded from the groin to your heart where they can measure blood flow and pressure across the aortic valves
  • Exercise stress testing
    Stress testing may be ordered for people who do not experience symptoms associated with aortic stenosis as a way to gauge their activity tolerance
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    MRI creates a detailed image of the heart and its structures, allowing doctors to measure the size of the aorta

Other diagnostic tests include transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) and computerized tomography (CT) scan.

Doctors will usually try to confirm a diagnosis of aortic stenosis using the least invasive methods first. However, if images are inconclusive or other factors, like vessel health, need to be investigated, further testing may be ordered.

Talk to your doctor to find out more about how to diagnose aortic stenosis.

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Source: The Premier Heart Associates

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