Aortic Valve Stenosis: Care Instructions

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A normal aortic valve and aortic valve stenosis

Your Care Instructions

Having aortic valve stenosis means that the valve between your heart and the large blood vessel that carries blood to the body (aorta) has narrowed. That forces the heart to pump harder to get enough blood through the valve. As stenosis gets worse, the valve gets narrower. This can cause symptoms. Symptoms include chest pain, dizziness, fainting, or shortness of breath.

Surgery can fix the valve. The most common surgery is to replace the aortic valve. Your doctor may want to delay valve replacement until you have severe narrowing.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Plan your meals so that you are eating heart-healthy foods.
    • Eat a variety of foods daily. Fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains are good choices.
    • Limit your fat intake, especially saturated and trans fat.
    • Limit salt (sodium).
    • Increase fibre in your diet.
    • Limit alcohol.
  • Be active. Ask your doctor what type and level of exercise is safe for you. Walking is a good choice. Your doctor may suggest that you join a cardiac rehabilitation program so that you can have help increasing your physical activity safely.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can make aortic valve stenosis worse. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. Lose weight if you need to.
  • Avoid colds and flu. Get a pneumococcal vaccine shot. If you have had one before, ask your doctor if you need another dose. Get a flu vaccine every year.
  • Take care of your teeth and gums. Get regular dental checkups. Good dental health is important because bacteria can spread from infected teeth and gums to the heart valves.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have symptoms of a heart attack. These may include:
    • Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
    • Sweating.
    • Shortness of breath.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly or in one or both shoulders or arms.
    • Light-headedness or sudden weakness.
    • A fast or irregular heartbeat.

After you call 911, the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength or 2 to 4 low-dose aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You develop new symptoms of aortic valve stenosis, such as chest pain, dizziness, or shortness of breath.
  • You have new or increased shortness of breath.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have sudden weight gain, such as 1 to 1.3 kilograms in a day or 2 kilograms in a week. (Your doctor may suggest a different range of weight gain.)
  • You have increased swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have trouble making healthy lifestyle changes.
  • You want more information about healthy lifestyle changes.

Where can you learn more?

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