Publication : Impact of vascular hemodynamics on aortic stenosis evaluation : new insights into the pathophysiology of normal flow - small aortic valve area - low gradient pattern
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Background: About 50% of normal‐flow/low‐gradient patients (ie, low mean gradient [MG] or peak aortic jet velocity and small aortic valve area) have severe aortic valve calcification as measured by computed tomography. However, they are considered to have moderate aortic stenosis (AS) in current American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines. The objective was thus to evaluate the effect of hypertension and reduced arterial compliance (rAC) on MG and Vpeak measurements.
Methods and Results: Doppler‐echocardiography was performed in 4 sheep with experimentally induced severe and critical AS at: (1) normal aortic pressure, (2) during hypertension, and (3) with rAC. Hypertension and rAC induced a substantial decrease in MG/Vpeak compared with normal stage (both P≤0.03) despite a stable transvalvular flow (P>0.16). Hypertension and rAC resulted in a greater reduction of MG in critical (−42%) compared with severe (−35%) AS (P˂0.0001). Comprehensive Doppler‐echocardiography and computed tomography were performed in 220 AS patients (mean age: 69±13 years; MG 29±18 mm Hg) with normal flow. The population was divided in 3 groups according to the presence of hypertension and rAC. The slope of the linear association between MG/Vpeak and aortic valve calcification divided by the cross‐sectional area of the aortic annulus was significantly reduced in patients with hypertension and/or rAC compared with normotensive/normal AC patients (P<0.01). Accordingly, patients with normal‐flow/low‐gradient and severe aortic valve calcification density were more frequent in hypertension and rAC groups compared with the normotensive/normal‐AC group (16% and 12% compared with 2%; P=0.03).
Conclusions: Hypertension and rAC are associated with a substantial reduction in MG/Vpeak for similar aortic valve calcification (ie, similar AS anatomic severity), which may lead to underestimation of AS hemodynamic severity