62-year-old woman presented with angina and was found to have aortic stenosis. The aortic valve is the gatekeeper between the left ventricle and the systemic arteries (see heart anatomy, valve action).
Degenerative changes in the aortic valve lead to calcification and narrowing of the orifice. The increased resistance to flow causes the left ventricle to work harder and hypertrophy and the systemic blood flow is dangerously low. If untreated, aortic stenosis puts the patient at risk for sudden death. The results of surgical correction of aortic stenosis are excellent. There are very few patients who are not candidates for repair of aortic stenosis.
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