Severe Aortic Stenosis: More Than an Imaging Diagnosis

Published:December 30, 2021DOI:


      The definition of severe aortic stenosis has undergone significant change casting a wider net to avoid missing patients who could benefit from valve replacement. The presence or absence of symptoms remains the key decision-making element; however, individuals presently undergoing evaluation are older, more likely asymptomatic, and have lower gradients. Due to numerous potential measurement errors, attention to detail when performing diagnostic testing and understanding their limitations are necessary to render appropriate treatment. Exercise testing adds useful information for individuals with severe aortic stenosis felt to be asymptomatic. Dobutamine echocardiography, in low flow-low gradient aortic stenosis, distinguishes between a myopathic and valvular cause of left ventricular dysfunction. Evaluation of patients when normotensive minimizes measurement errors. The amount of aortic valve calcification adds useful information when the degree of aortic stenosis is uncertain. A good history and physical integrated with high-quality imaging data allows for appropriate clinical treatment decisions for patients with aortic stenosis. The goal is simultaneously to provide aortic valve replacement for patients in need while avoiding overdiagnosis and performance of unnecessary procedures.


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