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Your Healthy Family: What is aortic stenosis? - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Your Healthy Family: What is aortic stenosis?

One reason aortic stenosis may go untreated, is that those subtle symptoms can be things many people simply believe are a part of aging. One reason aortic stenosis may go untreated, is that those subtle symptoms can be things many people simply believe are a part of aging.
COLORADO SPRINGS -

Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Peter Walinsky with UCHealth Memorial says he is on a mission, to inform more people about what he calls one of the most under diagnosed deadly diseases in the United States, aortic stenosis.  If you have it there is a 50% chance it will take your life in less than 2 years if left untreated.  

Dr Walinsky says, “We think that there are 275,000 people in the United States who have aortic valve stenosis and of that, only about a third will ever be treated.”

So what is aortic stenosis, and what are some clues that you may have it?  “Aortic stenosis is when the valve that the heart uses, to pump all the blood to the body becomes narrow.” says Dr. Walinsky.  “The symptoms of aortic stenosis that are dangerous, are chest pain, shortness of breath, and syncope which is passing out.  Other symptoms that are more subtle are fatigue,  lack of exercise tolerance, and dizziness. ‘

One reason aortic stenosis may go untreated, is that those subtle symptoms can be things many people simply believe are a part of aging.  It can strike anybody but most commonly hits folks in the 70’s and 80’s.

If it’s caught, Dr. Walinsky says, “The treatment is fairly simple.  Just like any other valve that goes bad you change it.  With aortic valve stenosis we now have two ways to get that done.  The old conventional way, and still the gold standard is by opening up the chest, putting the patient on the heart lung bypass machine, and cutting the old valve out and surgically implanting a new valve.  That's a very tried and true operation.  The results from aortic valve surgery are fabulous, and the patient just has to recover from the open heart surgery."

If the thought of open heart surgery sounds scary, Dr. Walinsky says the mortality rate from open heart surgery is less than 1%.  If you have aortic stenosis remember, there's a 50% chance it will kill you in less than two years, so if you compare those odds open heart surgery can suddenly make a lot of sense, even in your 80's and 90’s.  There is also a new procedure to replace an aortic valve that doesn’t involve open heart surgery that’s now available at UCHealth Memorial that Dr. Walinsky calls an absolute game changer for people in southern Colorado.  You can learn more about that in our story on transcatheter aorta valve replacement.

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