If you are currently feeling unwell or experiencing symptoms, Don’t Wait Mate call 000 immediately.
Don’t Wait Mate… It may be Aortic Stenosis.
Your body is your biggest asset, and looking after it is your most important task.
During our lifetime, we are exposed to diseases, conditions, and health issues that require varying levels of attention. But none are more important than the health of your heart. With Covid-19 changing the way we do things and limiting our movements, many people have postponed or stopped seeing their doctor for medical issues. There are some issues that should not be ignored, in particular when it relates to the heart.
What is Aortic Stenosis?
Aortic stenosis is the narrowing of the aortic valve, reducing the ability for the valve to open fully affecting the flow of blood to the body. Your heart then has to work harder to pump blood through your body and over time, can weaken your heart muscle. Aortic stenosis affects approximately 20% of Australians over the age of 60, and may require an aortic valve replacement.
In some cases surgery is required to repair or replace the affected valve, and until recently, this required open heart surgery. For more information: Calls for more people to gain access to alternative open heart surgery
Aortic stenosis can be deadly if left untreated, and once patients develop symptoms related to the valve condition, the survival rate drops as low as 50% at 2 years, and 20% after 5 years.
What are the symptoms of Aortic Stenosis?
Identifying heart disease is not as simple as detecting a murmur, or identifying any of the many symptoms.
Without the proper testing, many of the symptoms of heart disease can easily be mistaken as signs of old age, and it may present as mild to severe.
General symptoms include:
- Chest Pain
- Light headedness
- Rapid Heartbeat / Fluttering Heartbeat
- Shortness of breath / Trouble breathing
- Difficulty with short walks
- Swollen ankles or feet
- Difficulty sleeping
- Reduced activity levels
How is Aortic Stenosis diagnosed?
If you suspect a heart problem of any kind, it is essential to see your GP as soon as possible. Your doctor will conduct a physical examination, and may recommend you see an interventional cardiologist like A/Prof Dion Stub for further assessments such as an echocardiogram.
An echocardiogram uses soundwaves to produce images of the heart and evaluate the blood flow through the heart. To get a closer look at the aortic valve, a transesophageal echocardiogram may be needed. In this test, a transducer attached to the end of a tube is inserted into the esophagus which connects your mouth to your stomach.
A/Prof Stub will use echocardiogram to help diagnose aortic stenosis and review the cause and severity of any issues in the heart valves.
Who is at risk of Aortic Stenosis?
Aortic stenosis mainly affects older people, and onset starts at around 60, but is more likely to develop in the 70s or the 80s.
Children with congenital heart defects can develop aortic stenosis when only two cusps grow, instead of the normal three. This is a bicuspid aortic valve.
Accumulation of calcium deposits increases as you get older, and can cause a build-up of calcium on the aortic valve, causing it to stiffen, and narrow over time. This symptom may not present until age 70.
Rheumatic fever may cause scar tissue in the heart, and this may impact the way the aortic valve operates.
How do you treat Aortic Stenosis?
For people with no symptoms, or where symptoms are mild, monitoring is the best course of action, and to action once there is a change in the patient’s condition.
Treatments might include medication, valve repair, or valve replacement.
If an aortic valve replacement is required, interventional cardiologist A/Prof Dion Stub will remove the damaged valve, and perform an aortic valve replacement using a TAVI.
For more information about treatment options, please contact our practice for a consultation on 1300 765 865.
What is a TAVI?
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) is an innovative and minimally-invasive treatment for aortic stenosis. It involves inserting a small valve into the aortic valve, allowing blood to pump through normally.
Until recently, TAVI was presented as a minimally-invasive alternative for patients considered unsuitable for open-heart surgery. Over the last 15 years, TAVI has become the preferred treatment for all patients experiencing aortic stenosis requiring intervention.
To date, more than 300,000 people worldwide have been fitted with a TAVI device.
Don’t wait mate!
As our population gets older, so does the number of people living with aortic stenosis and heart disease. The good news is that there are viable treatment options available, and early detection can increase the success rate of treatments that can improve quality of life.
A/Prof Dion Stub is a leading interventional cardiologist specialising in structural heart procedures at the Alfred Hospital and Western Health. A/Prof Stub spent a year at the St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, where he served as an interventional fellow alongside Prof John Webb, an international expert in the use of TAVI.
For more information about or to book a consultation, please contact our practice on 1300 765 865.
A/Prof Dion Stub recently spoke to Drive Time Medical about TAVI, Aortic Stenosis, and the role of the GP. You can listen to the podcast, or read a transcript here. TAVI Podcast