Do I Need Treatment?

Life-limiting symptoms (chest pain, dyspnea, and syncope) are present in two-thirds of afflicted patients with aortic valve disease when it reaches a severe stage and often results in hospital admissions with substantial lost work productivity and out-of-pocket expenses.

When aortic valve disease is mild, the heart functions normally, and there is no impact on a person’s daily activities.

Most forms of aortic valve disease start off slowly and progress to a severe stage of stenosis or regurgitation. At this point, heart function is impaired, and life-limiting symptoms begin restricting a person’s activities. If the disease is left untreated at this later stage of the disease, symptom progression is both rapid and lethal, with a median survival of less than 2 years in those with heart-failure symptoms.

Aortic valve disease may be diagnosed during an annual exam, with the clinician hearing a heart murmur. In addition, a blood test called brain natriuretic peptide may be performed to evaluate heart strain. An echocardiogram, exercise stress test, and cardiac catheterization may be used to determine the extent of disease and whether treatment is indicated.