Progression of aortic stenosis and echocardiographic criteria for its severity

Eur Heart J Cardiovasc Imaging. 2020 Jul 1;21(7):737-743. doi: 10.1093/ehjci/jeaa075.


Aims: Guidelines-recommended criteria for identifying severe aortic stenosis (AS) are based on small, homogenous cohorts of patients, leading to potentially inconsistent or missed diagnosis. We used a large cohort of patients with varying degrees of AS to (i) characterize its progression; (ii) evaluate the influence of demographic and echocardiographic variables; and (iii) derive haemodynamically consistent cut-off values.

Methods and results: We identified 916 patients with mild to severe AS who had undergone >1 echocardiographic study (N = 2547). For each study, aortic valve area (AVA), peak transaortic velocity (Vmax), and mean pressure gradient (ΔP) were extracted. Annual rates of AVA change were determined by a linear mixed-effects model. To determine the prevalence of inconsistent diagnosis of severe AS, AVA was plotted against ΔP and Vmax, with quadrants defined using guidelines-recommended cut-offs. The rate of AVA change was -0.070 ± 0.003 cm2/year and was more rapid in men than women and in Whites than African Americans. AVA = 1 cm2 corresponded to ΔP = 32 mmHg and Vmax = 3.7 m/s, causing discrepancies in defining severe AS in 480 (19%) and 458 (18%) studies, respectively. Conversely, ΔP = 40 mmHg corresponded to AVA = 0.89 cm2 and Vmax = 4.0 m/s corresponded to AVA = 0.92 cm2, confirming the inconsistency of the guidelines. Notably, discrepancy rate was higher in 206 patients with low flow (SVi < 35 mL/m2): 40% vs. 16% in the remaining patients.

Conclusion: Our findings demonstrated gender- and race-related differences in AS progression and underscored the need to refine the multiparametric criteria for diagnosis of severe AS to minimize internal inconsistencies, which are high with the current cut-offs and amplified in patients with low stroke volumes.

Keywords: Doppler echocardiography; valvular heart disease.

MeSH terms

  • Aortic Valve Stenosis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Aortic Valve* / diagnostic imaging
  • Echocardiography
  • Echocardiography, Doppler
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stroke Volume