DALLAS, November 11, 2020 —Aortic stenosis is one of the most common and serious valve disease problems affecting about five percent of Americans age 65 or older[1]. Left untreated, it can lead to heart failure and increased risk of death. However, there are many patients that are unaware or undiagnosed, which is why the American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization dedicated to building longer, healthier lives, continues to drive efforts for timely diagnosis, appropriate treatment, improved quality of care initiatives and comprehensive patient and caregiver resources to combat the disease. To tackle the problem, the American Heart Association has launched the Target: Aortic Stenosis initiative, a program aimed to develop optimal standards of care via a learning collaborative comprised of experts and volunteers from pilot hospital locations around the nation.

The patient-centered initiative, launched with support from Edwards Lifesciences, targets effective identification and appropriate treatment with an initial focus on the prevalent structural heart disease, aortic stenosis.

People with aortic stenosis may not experience noticeable symptoms until the narrowed valve greatly reduces blood flow.

Symptoms of aortic stenosis may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Rapid, fluttering heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing or feeling short of breath
  • Feeling dizzy or light-headed, even fainting
  • Difficulty walking short distances
  • Swollen ankles or feet
  • Difficulty sleeping or needing to sleep sitting up
  • Decline in activity level or reduced ability to do normal activities

“Focusing on aortic stenosis is important as it is often a challenge for patients to differentiate the signs and symptoms of valve disease from normal signs of aging, leading to delayed diagnosis and therefore often missing out on earlier interventions,” said Clyde Yancy, MD, MSc, FAHA, FHFSA national AHA volunteer expert, chairman of the American Heart Association Get With The Guidelines Committee and chief, Division of Cardiology Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine. “The diagnosis of aortic stenosis can be challenging for care providers as well. This educational campaign comes at an opportune time. Patients are delaying doctor visits which can delay important diagnoses because they are afraid to seek medical care in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic. Getting an evaluation for heart valve disease and appropriate treatment may be life-saving.”

The goal of the Target: Aortic Stenosis quality improvement program is to enhance the patient experience from symptom onset to appropriate diagnosis and follow-through, to timely treatment and disease management. The program consists of evidence-based measurement development to better identify and treat patients, as well as multi-media educational resources and self-management care plans for people living with structural heart disease.

“A patient-centered approach is key for a disease such as aortic stenosis,” said Mariell Jessup, MD, FAHA, cardiologist and chief science and medical officer for the American Heart Association. “We are piloting best practices that can aid treatment protocols across the country and impact thousands of patients looking for improved quality of life and a chance for the best outcomes.”

The pilot locations participating in the initial Target: Aortic Stenosis learning collaborative are as follows:

- Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital


- Cleveland Clinic


- Colorado Heart and Vascular/St. Anthony Hospital

Lakewood, Colo.

- Deborah Heart and Lung Center

Browns Mills, New Jersey

- Doylestown Health

Doylestown, Penn.

- Geisinger Medical Center

Danville, Penn.

- Northwestern Memorial Hospital


- Penn Medicine


- Providence Heart Institute-Providence St Vincent Medical Center

Portland, Ore.

- Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center

Los Angeles

- Stanford Health Care

Stanford, Calif.

- Thomas Jefferson University Hospital


- The University of Kansas Health System

Kansas City, Kan.

- University of Utah Health

Salt Lake City, Utah

- Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Nashville, Tenn.

- Wellstar Health System

Marietta, Ga.

The Target: Aortic Stenosis initiative also has identified the Association of Black Cardiologists as a member of the Association’s strategic collaborator team in the effort to further the care for patients living with aortic stenosis and work to decrease gaps , inequity of care and diagnosis and treatment.

“Given the deadly nature and treatment disparities associated with aortic stenosis, the American Heart Association is uniquely positioned to lead this program by leveraging its network of partners to encourage health care professionals and their patients to recognize and act on the signs and symptoms of the disease, as well as understand treatment options that will allow them to live longer, healthier lives,” said Todd J. Brinton, M.D., F.A.C.C., corporate vice president of advanced technology and chief scientific officer, Edwards Lifesciences.

Understanding Aortic Stenosis

Aortic stenosis is caused by a narrowing of the aortic valve – one of four valves within the heart – which reduces blood flow to the rest of the body. If left untreated, the condition worsens, and patients with severe aortic stenosis have a survival rate as low as 50% at two years. Aortic stenosis is also a risk factor for heart failure, a costly disease, projected to cost the U.S. healthcare system $70 billion in 2030. [2]

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About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

Media Contact Info:

For Media Inquiries and AHA/ASA Expert Perspective: 214-706-1173

Karen Springs; C: 972.259.0350; karen.springs@heart.org

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721); heart.org and stroke.org

[1] 2020 Stats update, page 386

[2] Cost of HF: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4754052/, AS mortality: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/JAHA.118.011036