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The common heart valve disease your GP should check for


A heart check-up with a GP is at the core of understanding your heart health and function, and general wellbeing. Aortic Stenosis (AS) is one of the most common and serious heart valve diseases.

The disease occurs as the heart pumps blood through the aortic valve to the body and calcium build-up narrows the valve opening and restricts blood flow to the heart. The narrowing of the valve opening makes the heart work harder and can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid fluttering heartbeat1.

Research suggests that the likely number of currently affected Australians aged 55 years and over will soon rise to 100,000 people4 with many cases undiagnosed and have not received appropriate treatment to reduce their high-risk of subsequent mortality.4

To diagnose Aortic Stenosis, ask your doctor to review your symptoms which may include shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, light-headedness, feeling dizzy, and/or faint, difficulty when exercising, swollen ankles and feet and rapid or irregular heartbeat3, and conduct a physical examination. Your doctor may use a stethoscope to listen for a heart murmur which is the first step in diagnosing Aortic Stenosis2.

“If you’re over 65 years of age, ask your doctor to listen to your heart.”

After a full exam and a review of your medical history, your doctor may order a few tests3. These can include:

Echocardiogram: An imaging test which uses sound waves to create a picture of your heart’s structure. An echocardiogram can often tell whether your valve has thinned3.

Electrocardiogram: This measures electrical activity in the heart. It can help your doctor find out where there has been any heart failure, possibly caused by aortic valve stenosis3.

Exercise stress test: During the test, you will walk briskly on a treadmill or ride a stationary bicycle to increase your heart rate. If you don’t have symptoms, seeing how your heart responds to exercise can help your doctor diagnose aortic valve stenosis, as well as other heart problems3.

Cardiac catheterization: If there is not enough visible evidence, your doctor may ask you to have this procedure. During a cardiac catheterization, your doctor threads a thin, flexible tube into your arm. A special dye and an X-ray “movie” show a more detailed look at your heart’s valves and chambers3.

Types of treatment options for Aortic Stenosis3

There are three main surgical procedures for treating Aortic Stenosis:

Aortic valve replacement is regarded as the definitive therapy for severe Aortic Stenosis. The multi-disciplinary heart team will conduct a thorough evaluation of the patient’s status and make the final treatment decision for either surgical AVR (SAVR) or transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI), which is a less invasive treatment compared to surgery. This decision will be made based on patient risk for surgery and suitability.2

If you would like to learn more about Aortic Stenosis and treatment options, talk to your GP or visit:

If you need assistance in planning the discussion with your doctor, download this guide




2. Shuo-Ju Chiang et al., 2015, When and how aortic stenosis is first diagnosed:A single-center observational study 


4. Strange, G., et al.,2021, Uncovering the treatable burden of severe aortic stenosis in Australia: current and future projections within an ageing population

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