Evaluation of Aortic Valve Disorders Using Stress Echocardiography

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Stress echocardiography is a safe and valuable test to aid in the diagnosis and management of patients with aortic valve disorders. In patients with suspected severe aortic stenosis (AS) and low aortic gradients secondary to low cardiac output, dobutamine echocardiography distinguishes those patients with contractile reserve (CR) from those without it. By increasing the stroke volume in subjects with CR, true severe AS patients have an increase in transaortic gradients without a significant change in the valve area, whereas patients with pseudostenosis have an increase in the gradients with concomitant increase in the aortic valve area to >1 cm2. Patients without CR are indeterminate in their AS status and have a poor prognosis. The presence of CR is also important in patients suffering from aortic insufficiency, as it may predict the development of symptoms, myocardial dysfunction, or death in the asymptomatic phase of the disease, and the potential for left ventricular functional recovery after valve replacement. Finally, both exercise and dobutamine echocardiography can help in the assessment of valve malfunction or mismatch in patients with aortic valve prostheses experiencing exercise intolerance by correlating the symptoms with the change in the aortic gradients induced during stress testing.

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