Aortic Stenosis

Narrow heart valve, wide possibilities for care and repair

Our approach to aortic stenosis care

Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening, which restricts blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. It's a slow-developing but serious condition that can be life threatening if not treated.

That's where our team of structural heart disease experts comes in. Together, we’ll give you the personalized care you need to manage your condition and improve your quality of life.

Signs and symptoms of aortic stenosis

Aortic valve stenosis develops slowly over time, so you may not experience symptoms for many years — or at all. In some cases, the condition may be detected during a routine physical exam when your doctor hears a heart murmur.

As the condition worsens, you may start to notice certain signs and symptoms, including:

  • chest pain or pressure: This symptom may feel like a squeezing or tightening sensation in the chest.
  • dizziness or lightheadedness: You may feel like you're going to faint or lose your balance. Some people may even pass out.
  • shortness of breath: You may have difficulty catching your breath, even during activities that you were previously able to do with ease.

These signs may be even more apparent during physical activity, when your heart is working harder.

When to seek care for aortic stenosis

If you start to notice any of the symptoms above, it's important to see your doctor for an evaluation. Early diagnosis and treatment of aortic stenosis can help prevent serious complications, such as heart failure or stroke.

Diagnosing aortic stenosis

Your diagnostic process will likely begin with the signs your primary care doctor notices. When you need further testing, your provider will refer you to our team of structural heart specialists to develop a plan tailored to your needs. Tests that you may need include:

  • physical exam: Your doctor will listen to your heart for a heart murmur.
  • echocardiogram: This painless imaging test, also called heart ultrasound, uses sound waves to create images of your heart. An echocardiogram shows how blood is flowing through the heart and heart valves.
  • other tests: Your doctor may recommend other tests to evaluate your heart function, including cardiac catheterization, computed tomography (CT) scan or a special stress test when the diagnosis is uncertain.

Treatment options for aortic stenosis

When it comes to aortic stenosis, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment approach. The best course of action for you will depend on your individual symptoms, risk factors and preferences.

The innovative, minimally invasive procedures we offer can make all the difference when you have a serious heart condition. Our heart team specializes in:

  • transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR): This minimally invasive procedure involves inserting a new valve into the heart through a catheter inserted in the leg. It's an alternative to traditional surgical aortic valve replacement and may be a good option if you're at high risk for surgery.
  • surgical aortic valve replacement: This traditional surgical procedure involves removing the damaged aortic valve and replacing it with a new valve. It may be right for people who need other surgical treatment, have an infected valve or are not good candidates for TAVR.
  • balloon valvuloplasty: This procedure involves inflating a balloon inside the aortic valve to widen it and improve blood flow. A balloon valvuloplasty is typically a temporary measure to relieve symptoms while waiting for surgery or TAVR.
  • medications: Our heart specialists may prescribe medications to manage symptoms of aortic stenosis, such as chest pain, shortness of breath and fatigue. These medications may include beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and diuretics.

Benefits of aortic stenosis care

Aortic stenosis requires a specialized, skilled treatment approach. Our cardiologists are well versed in the latest approaches to structural heart care and work with you individually to personalize your treatment plan.

Our team includes experts from multiple fields of medicine, including interventional cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, cardiac imaging, heart failure and cardiac anesthesia. We review appropriate treatment options and make a joint decision together that’s right for you.

Tests and treatments

  • cardiac catheterization
  • CT scan
  • echocardiogram
  • stress test
  • surgical valve replacement
  • TAVR
  • valvuloplasty

“We figured out a better way to look at TAVR and were privileged enough to be able to develop a new technique that dramatically and reproducibly improves outcomes and reduces pacemaker rates, undoubtedly helping keep patients a healthy step ahead.” James Harvey III, MD, director of the Structural Heart Program, WellSpan Health

TAVR expertise

We’ve performed over 1,000 TAVR procedures, more than any other hospital in our region. Our cardiologists are experts in this minimally invasive procedure and have a high success rate.

Low pacemaker rates

We've developed a new TAVR technique that significantly reduces the chance that you would later need a pacemaker. Because pacemakers can have a negative impact on quality of life, the new TAVR approach is a major advantage.

Cutting-edge treatment options

We collaborate with experts at other leading institutions to stay at the forefront of care and offer you the latest advancements. We're also involved in multiple clinical trials, which means you'll have access to experimental treatments that are not yet widely available.

Personalized care

We understand that aortic stenosis is a serious condition, and we're committed to providing you with the best possible care. We listen to your concerns and develop a comprehensive treatment plan that meets your individual needs.