Treatment

Treatment for aortic valve stenosis depends on the severity of your condition, whether you're experiencing signs and symptoms, and if your condition is getting worse.

If your symptoms are mild or you aren't experiencing symptoms, your doctor may monitor your condition with regular follow-up appointments. Your doctor may recommend you make healthy lifestyle changes and take medications to treat symptoms or reduce the risk of complications.

You may eventually need surgery to repair or replace the diseased aortic valve. In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery even if you aren't experiencing symptoms. If you're having another heart surgery, doctors may perform aortic valve surgery at the same time.

Surgery to repair or replace an aortic valve is usually performed through a cut (incision) in the chest. Less invasive approaches may be available, and your doctor will evaluate you to determine if you're a candidate for these procedures.

If you have aortic valve stenosis, consider being evaluated and treated at a medical center with a multidisciplinary team of cardiologists and other doctors and medical staff trained and experienced in evaluating and treating heart valve disease. This team can work closely with you to determine the most appropriate treatment for your condition.

Surgery options include:

Aortic valve repair

Surgeons rarely repair an aortic valve to treat aortic valve stenosis, and generally aortic valve stenosis requires aortic valve replacement. To repair an aortic valve, surgeons may separate valve flaps (cusps) that have fused.

Balloon valvuloplasty

Doctors may conduct a procedure using a long, thin tube (catheter) to repair a valve with a narrowed opening (aortic valve stenosis). In this procedure, called balloon valvuloplasty, a doctor inserts a catheter with a balloon on the tip into an artery in your arm or groin and guides it to the aortic valve. The doctor performing the procedure then inflates the balloon, which expands the opening of the valve. The balloon is then deflated, and the catheter and balloon are removed.

The procedure can treat aortic valve stenosis in infants and children. However, the valve tends to narrow again in adults who've had the procedure, so it's usually only performed in adults who are too ill for surgery or who are waiting for a valve replacement, as they typically need additional procedures to treat the narrowed valve over time.

Aortic valve replacement

Aortic valve replacement is often needed to treat aortic valve stenosis. In aortic valve replacement, your surgeon removes the damaged valve and replaces it with a mechanical valve or a valve made from cow, pig or human heart tissue (biological tissue valve).

Biological tissue valves degenerate over time and may eventually need to be replaced. People with mechanical valves will need to take blood-thinning medications for life to prevent blood clots. Your doctor will discuss with you the benefits and risks of each type of valve and discuss which valve may be appropriate for you.

Doctors may perform a less invasive procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) to replace a narrowed aortic valve. TAVR may be an option for people who are considered to be at intermediate or high risk of complications from surgical aortic valve replacement.

In TAVR, doctors insert a catheter in your leg or chest and guide it to your heart. A replacement valve is then inserted through the catheter and guided to your heart. A balloon may expand the valve, or some valves can self-expand. When the valve is implanted, doctors remove the catheter from your blood vessel.

Doctors may also conduct a catheter procedure to insert a replacement valve into a failing biological tissue valve that is no longer working properly. Other catheter procedures to repair or replace aortic valves continue to be researched.