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Living With Aortic Stenosis

Patients with aortic stenosis can live full and rewarding lives. However, they may need to be monitored by a heart specialist with office visits and periodic testing.

In many cases, aortic stenosis is discovered in patients before they develop any symptoms. These patients are told to watch for certain symptoms such as chest pain or discomfort, difficulty breathing, or lightheadedness or fainting spells. These symptoms could indicate a worsening of the condition, but they can occur for other reasons as well. Any of these symptoms should be reported at once to your family doctor or heart specialist.

Based on the severity of your condition, your doctor may limit your activity, but many patients can exercise and do most activities without restriction. However, you should increase activity or start an exercise or walking program only under the guidance of your doctor.

Because aortic stenosis tends to progress over time, even patients without symptoms will require routine testing to monitor their condition. This would typically include an ultrasound of the heart (called an echocardiogram) and other tests, such as an exercise stress test.

On occasion, more invasive testing such as heart catheterization may be needed. Your heart specialist will work with you to set a schedule for monitoring and testing. Together, you will decide when and if treatment is needed.

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