Aortic valve stenosis

Aortic valve stenosis — or aortic stenosis — occurs when the heart's aortic valve narrows. This narrowing prevents the valve from opening fully, which obstructs blood flow from your heart into your aorta and onward to the rest of your body.

When the aortic valve is obstructed, your heart needs to work harder to pump blood to your body. Eventually, this extra work limits the amount of blood it can pump and may weaken your heart muscle.

If you have severe aortic valve stenosis, you'll usually need surgery to replace the valve. Left untreated, aortic valve stenosis can lead to serious heart problems.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Aortic valve stenosis ranges from mild to severe. Aortic valve stenosis signs and symptoms generally develop when narrowing of the valve is severe and can include:

  • Chest pain (angina) or tightness
  • Feeling faint or fainting with exertion
  • Shortness of breath, especially with exertion
  • Fatigue, especially during times of increased activity
  • Heart palpitations — sensations of a rapid, fluttering heartbeat
  • Heart murmur

The heart-weakening effects of aortic valve stenosis may lead to heart failure. Heart failure signs and symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, and swollen ankles and feet.

Aortic valve stenosis often doesn't produce warning signs or symptoms right away, making it difficult to detect at first. You also may not recognize that you're experiencing symptoms. The condition is often discovered during a routine physical when your doctor hears an abnormal heart sound (heart murmur). This murmur may occur long before other signs and symptoms develop.

Depending on the amount of narrowing, an infant or child with aortic valve stenosis may have no symptoms, may tire easily or may have chest pain with vigorous physical activity.

When to see a doctor

Aortic valve stenosis usually affects adults but can occur in children. Infants and children with the condition may experience symptoms similar to those of adults. If you or your child experiences such signs or symptoms, see a doctor — especially if you or your child has a known heart problem.

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