Harvard Heart Letter

No-surgery aortic valve replacement okay for some, not all

Seek help from a heart team when considering your options.

Age and unhealthy habits can harm the aortic valve, a three-flapped structure that ensures the one-way flow of blood from the heart's main pumping chamber to the rest of the body. In some people, the aortic valve becomes encrusted with calcium deposits that stiffen and narrow it, restricting blood flow. When people with this condition (called aortic stenosis) start feeling symptoms — such as dizziness, breathlessness, fatigue, and loss of appetite — quality of life goes inexorably downhill unless the valve is replaced.

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