Answers to Common Aortic Stenosis Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about aortic stenosis.

Is aortic stenosis a progressive disease?

Aortic stenosis (AS) may be the result of a congenital heart defect present from birth. For these people—approximately 10-15% of the population with diagnosed AS, symptoms may present before one year of age.

For the majority of people, however, aortic stenosis is a progressive disease. As explains, the aortic valve is comprised of three leaflets, thin flaps of tissue that open and close to maintain one-way blood flow from the left ventricle of the heart to the aorta. Over time, calcium deposits build up on these leaflets, making them stiff and unable to fully open and close. When the aortic valve is unable to fully open, the heart must work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body. Over time, this can cause the walls of the left ventricle to thicken. Eventually, the heart muscle weakens, increasing the risk of heart failure.

Because most people experience aortic stenosis as a progressive disease (i.e. calcific aortic stenosis), it is more common in elderly patients. A study published in the European Heart Journal reports that 25% of people over 65 have some degree of calcific aortic stenosis. However, other risk factors can lead to its development earlier, such as:

  • Rheumatic fever (AS symptoms may present five to ten years after the disease)
  • Chronic kidney disease

Risk factors for other cardiovascular disease—high blood pressure, smoking, obesity—can also increase the risk and/or rate of progression of aortic stenosis. Some studies call for further research to better understand aortic stenosis risk factors in an effort to understand how to slow the progression of the disease.

For more information about aortic stenosis risk factors and progression, talk with your doctor.

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Source: The Premier Heart Associates

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