New Initiative will Transform Care for Structural Heart Disease Patients
With the support of Edwards Lifesciences, the American Heart Association is creating an initiative to extend and improve the quality of life for the millions of Americans living with structural heart disease. This quality improvement initiative will ensure all patients living with structural heart disease receive the best care — from symptom onset, to timely diagnosis, treatment and management — beginning with a focus on aortic stenosis.
Stenosis is the term for a valve that will not open properly. When a valve is working properly, it opens fully for all the needed blood to flow through. When a valve is stenotic, the opening is narrowed, the heart must pump harder, less blood gets through and the body as well as the heart suffer from a reduced supply of oxygen-rich blood. This can cause fatigue or a feeling of being out of breath. It may also cause the heart to work extra hard to get an adequate amount of blood circulating to the body.
Aortic stenosis is usually caused by one of these three reasons:
- Conditions present from birth
- Wear and tear" from aging
- Rheumatic fever which is rare in the United States today.
Over time, a tight valve may remain harmless or it may worsen and need treatment. It's important to note that some people never develop noticeable symptoms. Although symptoms are important to monitor, they are not the only important factor. A faulty valve may need treatment with or without noticeable symptoms.It is possible to replace the aortic valve with surgical aortic valve replacement or with a less-invasive procedure called a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). Your doctor will discuss the best treatment option for you.