A TAVR procedure is a minimally-invasive surgical treatment for aortic stenosis. The information below will further explain about your heart’s anatomy, aortic stenosis, its symptoms, and more.
Stenosis is a condition where some heart valves do open the right way. Stenosis is one of the heart problems that heart doctors most often see and treat.
Your Heart’s Anatomy
The heart is a muscled organ in your chest that is about the size of a fist. Its main purpose is to pump blood and carry oxygen to the rest of your body. The body may not work right if there is a problem with blood flow. Blood flows through the heart through four chambers and four valves. Blood also is pumped through the lungs and the rest of the body. If a valve has narrowed, less blood can come through it, and the heart has to pump harder in order to keep blood flowing through your body.
The four heart chambers are:
- Right atrium – gets blood from the body.
- Right ventricle – gets blood from the right atrium and sends blood to the lungs.
- Left atrium – gets blood from the lungs.
- Left ventricle – gets blood from the left atrium and sends blood to the body.
The four valves are:
- Tricuspid valve – the gate between the right atrium and right ventricle
- Pulmonary valve – the opening from the heart to the lungs
- Mitral valve, also called the bicuspid valve – the gate between the left atrium and left ventricle
- Aortic valve – the opening from the heart to the rest of the body
What Is Stenosis/Aortic Stenosis?
Aortic stenosis is the narrowing of the aortic valve opening. Over time, the leaflets of the aortic valve become stiff, reducing their ability to open and close. When the leaflets don’t fully open, your heart must work harder to push blood through the aortic valve to your body. Eventually, your heart gets weaker, increasing the risk of heart failure where your heart cannot supply enough blood to your body.
What are the Symptoms of Aortic Stenosis?
Aortic stenosis is a common health problem affecting millions of people in the U.S. It is a very serious problem and can lead to death if not treated. The symptoms of aortic stenosis include:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty walking short distances
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting
- Swollen ankles and feet
- Rapid heartbeat
- Chest pain
- No longer taking part in physical activities you used to enjoy
These could also be the symptoms of heart failure. If you have any of these symptoms and have been diagnosed with heart failure, ask your doctor to also test for aortic stenosis.
What are the Risk Factors for Aortic Stenosis?
Factors associated with aortic disease include:
- Increasing with age
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Deformed aortic valve
- Family history
What Causes Aortic Stenosis?
- Calcium build-up on the valve: With age, heart valves may accumulate calcium deposits.
- Birth defect: Some people are born with an aortic valve that only has two leaflets instead of three. This may not cause any problems until adulthood, at which time the valve may begin to narrow or leak.
- Rheumatic fever: This may result in scar tissue on the aortic valve, which can narrow it or can create a rough surface where calcium deposits can collect.
- Radiation therapy: In rare cases, calcification of the aortic valve can occur more quickly in patients who have received radiation treatment to the chest.
- If you suspect you may have aortic stenosis, see your family doctor or a cardiologist. They may then refer you to a multidisciplinary heart team at a TAVR Center near you.
- Before your appointment, check with your family members to find out if any close to you have been diagnosed with heart disease. Knowing as much as possible about your family’s health history will help your doctor make informed decisions.
What are Your Options for Treating Aortic Stenosis?
- Treatment depends on how far your disease has progressed. If your stenosis is mild to moderate, medication may be prescribed to help regulate your heartbeat and prevent blood clots.
- However, if the severity of your stenosis progresses, your doctor and a specialized heart team* may recommend replacing your diseased aortic valve. Severe aortic stenosis cannot be treated with medication. The only effective treatment is to replace your aortic valve.
- *Only professionals who have received extensive training are qualified to perform a TAVR procedure. A properly trained and dedicated multidisciplinary heart team at a TAVR Center will conduct a thorough evaluation to determine the most appropriate treatment option for you.
Learn More About Heart Care At Northridge Hospital Medical Center
For more information about the TAVR procedure and our Cardiovascular Center, please call Program Manager Carlyn Fostakowski, NP, at 818.855.8500 ext. 5691.
This procedure is currently performed at Northridge Hospital by Dr. Jahandar Saleh, Dr. Aamer Jamali, and Dr. Vasim Lala.