Aortic stenosis is a common, debilitating disease that severely impacts life expectancy once symptoms develop1
Despite this, many patients go undiagnosed, or following diagnosis are not promptly referred for treatment. Read on for further information regarding the demographics and impact of aortic stenosis, and the important role you can play in its detection, diagnosis and treatment.
1 in 8 people over 75 are affected by Aortic Stenosis2
Aortic stenosis is the most common primary valve disease in the elderly leading to intervention in both Europe and North America, and its prevalence continues to increase, due to an ageing population.3
The prevalence of aortic stenosis increases with ageing and is notably higher in the elderly population (65 years and older). Epidemiological studies show the prevalence of aortic stenosis in patients over 75 rises to one in eight.2
Aortic stenosis often restricts normal day-to-day activities4
Patients with severe aortic stenosis often develop symptoms that restrict their normal day-to-day activities.4 However, many patients may initially appear asymptomatic, as they tend to adapt their lifestyle to minimise the impact of symptoms. An exercise test can unmask symptoms in up to 37% of patients with severe aortic stenosis.5
Patients may not report their symptoms
The first step in treating aortic stenosis is detecting it. Many patients may not ‘self-report’, having grown used to compensating for the symptoms that they experience. Has your patient suffered from specific symptoms, such as exertional dyspnoea, cardiac syncope or angina pectoris? Careful questioning and discussions with your patient can give vital clues towards detecting aortic stenosis.
Patients with severe aortic stenosis have a greatly reduced life expectancy if left untreated1
Although patients may live with asymptomatic aortic stenosis for many years, once symptoms of the disease develop and present, the need for treatment becomes urgent.
As soon as the symptoms described previously develop, the patient’s life expectancy is severely impacted.1 Without aortic valve replacement patients with severe aortic stenosis have survival rates as low as 50% at 2 years and 20% at 5 years following onset of symptoms.6
While treatment can improve survival, most patients with severe aortic stenosis go untreated4, 7-12
Despite the poor outcomes for patients with severe symptomatic aortic stenosis who are untreated, and the significant impact on quality of life, a high proportion of patients go untreated. Several studies have reported on this, suggesting that at least 40%, and perhaps as many as 60% of patients do not receive aortic valve replacement.4, 7–12 Many such untreated patients with severe aortic stenosis could also benefit from the improvements in both quality of life and life expectancy following aortic valve replacement.13
GPs play a key role in referring patients to you for diagnosis – help them to understand when to listen, suspect and refer.