Aortic stenosis is often a disease that develops in older age, due to calcium build up within the aortic valve leaflets, leading to restriction in leaflet opening. This can lead to symptoms, including breathlessness, chest pain and lightheadedness with exertion. Some patient with a bicuspid aortic valve may develop aortic stenosis at a younger age.
Regular examinations and echocardiograms can be used to monitor the severity of the narrowing.
In the past, the main treatment option for aortic stenosis was open heart surgery in order to replace the aortic valve. However, in many cases, aortic stenosis can now be treated with TAVI (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation). The decision around which of these treatments is most suitable depends upon your other medical issues and the results of a number of tests. In some situations where the risk of either procedure may be too high, you may require supportive treatment and medication alone.
Bicuspid aortic valve
A bicuspid aortic valve is a valve with 2, rather than 3, leaflets. This is a fairly common condition within the community and is inherited.
A bicuspid aortic valve can become narrowed or leaky at a fairly young age. Enlargement or narrowing (coarctation) of the aorta, the main blood vessel carrying blood from the heart to the body, can also occur with this condition. Monitoring with echocardiography is recommended for this condition, to detect any problems with the valve or aorta that may develop over time.
Echocardiographic screening is also recommended for anyone with a first degree relative (parent, sibling or child) found to have this issue. This is to determine whether family members also have a bicuspid valve and need monitoring over time.