“One day, my dad picked up the phone and I heard him breathing really hard on the other end,” said Mary. “I asked him what was wrong and my dad said he was just out of breath these days. I knew something wasn’t right.” When her father, 80-year-old Conrad, a typically vibrant and active person, began to experience a marked decrease in energy, he didn’t think anything of it until Mary pointed out his shortness of breath. Conrad thought his symptoms were the normal signs of aging, but he soon discovered they were actually caused by a problem with one of the valves in his heart.
In your golden years, you’ve probably come to expect that your hair will turn gray and that you may lose a step or two in your tango. But did you know that feeling extremely tired or short of breath may signal a deeper, underlying problem? Aortic stenosis may be the culprit.
Up to 1.5 million people in the United States suffer from this progressive disease where the aortic valve in the heart narrows. This can be caused by a variety of reasons, including the buildup of calcium in the heart valve, a birth defect, rheumatic fever, or radiation therapy. Approximately 250,000 people suffer from the most severe form of aortic stenosis.
Aortic stenosis symptoms are often mistaken for signs of “normal” aging and may cause you to experience the following:
• Chest pain or tightness
• Shortness of breath
• Lightheadedness, dizziness, and/or fainting
• Heart palpitations
• Swollen ankles and feet
• Difficulty walking short distances or exercising
• Sensations of a rapid fluttering heartbeat
• The need to sleep sitting upright instead of lying flat in bed
• Unable or unfit to engage in physical activities that you used to enjoy
If you experience any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor right away as they may be signs of a serious health issue.
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association guidelines recommend treatment quickly once a person is diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis. Once people begin experiencing symptoms, studies indicate that up to 50 percent of those with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis will not survive more than an average of two years. These are indeed sobering statistics.
Fortunately there are treatment options available for aortic stenosis, which may help to extend and improve your quality of life. Therefore, it is important to recognize the symptoms.
Visit NewHeartValve.com to learn more about severe aortic stenosis and to locate a specialized Heart Team near you.
North American Precis Syndicate