6 Symptoms Never to Ignore If You Have Aortic Stenosis
- Don’t let aortic stenosis catch you by surprise.Your aortic valve connects the left ventricle of your heart to your aorta, helping blood to flow from your heart to the rest of your body. But if you have aortic stenosis, your aortic valve doesn’t open fully. As a result, your heart has to work harder and may not be able to pump enough blood to your tissues and organs. Though you may not have symptoms in the early stages, aortic stenosis can lead to serious complications, including heart failure–a condition in which your heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. When you start experiencing symptoms, that might mean your aortic stenosis has become more severe, and treatment is necessary. Pay attention to the following symptoms of severe aortic stenosis and notify your doctor right away if they develop.
- 1. Chest pain or tightnessMost people know chest pain, sometimes called angina, can be a sign of a heart attack, but it can also be associated with aortic stenosis. Because of your heart’s increased workload due to the condition, your heart muscle requires more oxygen. When your blood supply can’t meet the oxygen demand of your heart, chest pain can develop. You’ll probably notice that it’s worse with exertion and improves with rest.
- 2. Dizziness, Lightheadedness, or FaintingNormally, your heart can compensate for changes in your blood pressure when you move positions or engage in physical activity. But because aortic stenosis reduces the blood flow out to your body, including your brain, you may feel dizzy or lightheaded at times. In more severe cases, fainting may occur from decreased blood flow to the brain.
- 3. Shortness of BreathDo you notice you’re feeling out of breath after climbing a flight of stairs? Does your regular exercise feel considerably more challenging than it used to? Don’t simply chalk it up to being out of shape. It may be indicative of heart failure due to aortic stenosis. Aortic stenosis can weaken your heart over time, making it difficult to pump enough blood to meet the needs of your body. Blood can also back up into your pulmonary veins and push fluid into your lungs, making it hard to breathe.
- 4. Heart PalpitationsIf you feel a rapid or pounding heartbeat or a fluttering sensation in your chest, you may be experiencing heart palpitations. When your heart is not sufficiently pumping blood, it may beat faster to try and make up for it. Abnormal heart rhythms can develop due to lack of blood flow as well, and fainting may occur as the result of an irregular heartbeat.
- 5. FatigueFatigue is easy to overlook because it may be easy to blame on other factors. But if you notice you are increasingly tired or having difficulty performing your normal activities, even when you’re getting a good amount of sleep, let your doctor know. Fatigue can be a sign your body isn’t getting enough oxygen, which may occur with worsening aortic stenosis.
- 6. Swelling in Your Feet or AnklesYou may find your shoes feel tight or you have a distinct indentation from the top of your sock line at the end of the day. It may seem surprising, but edema, or swelling, can develop in your lower extremities as a result of heart failure secondary to aortic stenosis. When your heart isn’t pumping efficiently and your circulation is decreased, fluid may build up in your tissues and cause swelling. If you notice any swelling, reach out to your doctor for next steps.