As we already know, aortic stenosis is the narrowing of the hole where blood flows, to the exit of the heart (left ventricle) to arrive to all organs in the body. This narrowing, depending on the scale, can be classified as mild, moderate or severe.
In general, there are no symptoms until we find a severe aortic stenosis, although there are many cases where there is any symptom, in spite of the importance of that narrowing. We would be talking about asymptomatic severe aortic stenosis.
Signs or symptoms
Analysing the manifestations of aortic stenosis, we must distinguish two concepts that are confused, on many occasions, in common parlance: signs and symptoms.
Signs are objective consequences, which can be measured in an external way, through physical examination or complementary tests. By contrast, symptoms are subjective manifestations: what the sufferer feels.
Signs of aortic stenosis
The main sign of a patient with aortic stenosis is an abnormal sound or auscultation. It is known as “cardiac murmur” and it is caused due to turbulences on the bloodstream that causes the narrowing on the aortic valve.
Additionally to the aortic stenosis murmur, the alterations on the heart rate amplitude, among others.
In cases of evolved aortic stenosis, an undesirable consequence might occur: heart failure. In those case, there are secondary signs to this, as swelling (oedema) starting from the ankles and climbing and increasing the difficulty to breathe.
Symptoms of aortic stenosis
The consequence of the aortic narrowing on the general condition of a patient can be variable. As said before, in many occasions, severe aortic stenosis does not show symptoms. When they appear, the most frequent symptoms are:
- Chest pain, during physical activity above all
- Shortness of breath, originally when doing important exercises, but on less stress and, in extreme cases, at rest.
- Syncope or loss of consciousness
- Fatigability, tendency to fatigue when making moderate or mild efforts.
- Palpitations (being conscious of the heart beats)
None of these symptoms is exclusive of aortic stenosis, and it can be caused due to other causes, so a proper diagnosis is essential, based on the analysis of the medical history, the physical examination and complementary tests.