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Lisa, MSN, FNP-BC, CCRN, Nurse Practitioner
Category: Health
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Experience:  Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner
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exam said there was relatively mild thickening of the heart

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My primary physician heard a heart murmur during a recent routine exam and recommended an echocardiogram. The cardiologist who read the results of the exam said there was relatively mild thickening of the aorta,but that my heart was strong and the condition did not require treatment. He was reluctant to discuss the results any further, saying I should talk to my primary physician, who still does not have the test results. I am, of course, concerned about the diagnosis. Can I do anything to stop its progression? Is it necessarily degenerative? I am 67 and in very good health otherwise,although I have experienced extreme stress for quite some time.I would appreciate any insight you can give me based on the information I have shared with you.



Thank you for writing in today. With people of an advanced age, some thickening of the aortic valve is a common finding. This is usually related to calcification of the valve. Calcification occurs over time, which is why it is common in older adults. Roughly 25% of older adults, greater than 65 years of age, have aortic thickening. Now, with this being said, this does not necessarily mean that the valve is not working properly. It is possible to have some aortic thickening and normal function. The echocardiogram results are most telling. Since the cardiologist reported a strong heart and no need for treatment, this is a good sign. You may just have some thickening, but your cardiac function remains normal. There really isn't anything you likely need to do differently. Your provider will probably want you to have periodic echocardiograms to monitor the situation; however, this does not necessarily mean that this will progress to the point where you will have significant valvular dysfunction. It may just mean that routine evaluation of the valve is necessary. However, I would recommend discussing this further with your provider, once he/she has your echocardiogram results. I hope this helps to answer your question. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please let me know. Lisa

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Your response has been very informative and has helped to allay my concerns. I try to take good care of myself, but I was also concerned that I did something to cause or didn't do something to prevent this condition. I guess you covered that concern by the fact that it is related to age. Thank you very much for your informative response. I appreciate the comfort it provided.
You are very welcome. Obviously, you will have to wait and review the result with your provider; however, based on the information you have presented, this is what I suspect may be occuring. Even if you do have some valvular dysfunction, this could also be minimal and no real need for alarm. At this point, focus on the positives. When the cardiologist reported a strong heart and no need for treatment, this is a very good sign. I'm glad I could help. Take care. Lisa
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