What are the clinical signs of aortic stenosis

Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the valve within the aorta (the main branch coming off the heart to supply the body with blood). 

There are three main symtpoms patients will experience with this condition. This can be remembered by the mneumonic "SAD". 

Firstly, they are at risk of "Syncope", which just means they can suffer from blackouts. This occurs because the constriction in the aorta means there is reduced blood flow to the brain. This causes the brain to shutdown and thus patients collapse. This is a protective mechanism to ensure the patient's head falls below the level of their heart so that the heart does not have to spend extra energy to pump against the force of gravity. This can then lead to a return in blood flow to the brain! 

The second symptom is "Angina". This is just a fancy term to mean chest pain that arises due to a lack of blood flow to the heart. The blood vessels supplying the heart (coronary arteries) arise after the aortic valve. As there is a restriction in this valve, any blood flow after it is reduced including in the coronary arteries. As a result, the heart itself has a reduced blood flow and can not maintain its pumping function leading to oxygen starvation in the heart tissue which in turn leads to pain! 

Lastly, patients will experience "Dyspnoea", again a fancy term just to mean short of breath! As the body is suffering from a reduced blood flow as a result of the constriction, the only way to improve oxygen delivery to tissues is by increasing the amount of oxygen within the blood itself and thus by increasing the rate of breathing! 

As easy as S A D! 

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