Aortic stenosis is a congenital heart defect that is most common in German Shepherds, Newfoundlands, and Boxers. In this condition, narrowing of the aorta (the large artery that distributes blood from the heart) forces the heart to beat faster and harder to pump blood to the rest of the body. This can lead to heart failure.
While some young puppies with aortic stenosis appear completely healthy, others tire quickly, are stunted, and have fainting spells. Sudden death at 6 to 18 months of age is common.
Dogs with mild stenosis (narrowing) may live for many years without developing heart failure, but once signs of heart failure develop, the chances for a normal life are poor.
Diagnosis of aortic stenosis frequently involves radiographs (x-rays), electrocardiograms, angiography or echocardiography.
Important Points in Treatment
1. Many cases of aortic stenosis are correctable with open-heart surgery; however, the procedure requires a heart-lung bypass and is relatively risky and quite expensive. Therefore, the procedure is not often performed.