Aortic stenosis is a disease of the heart valve. It involves the narrowing of the aortic heart valve, which reduces blood flow.
This article provides an overview of aortic stenosis, including the causes, diagnosis, and treatment options.
The heart has valves that allow blood to flow in and out of the heart to the lungs and body. The valves have flaps that direct blood flow and open and close with each heartbeat.
The left ventricle is the lower left chamber of the heart. The aortic valve
Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve. Stenosis
The following are the most important signs of aortic stenosis:
Other symptoms can include:
- a fluttering, rapid heartbeat
- feeling dizzy or light-headed
- swollen feet or ankles
- difficulty sleeping
- fatigue and reduced activity levels
Aortic stenosis can be present at birth. In infants and children, symptoms may include:
- fatigue with exertion
- an inability to gain weight
- difficulty with feeding
- breathing difficulties
As aortic stenosis progresses, the muscular wall of the left ventricle
Thickening of the left ventricle wall means there is less space inside the lower heart chamber. This reduces the amount of blood supplying the body and may lead to heart failure.
Heart failure is one of the
- pulmonary hypertension, a type of high blood pressure affecting the blood vessels in the lungs
- infective endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the heart valve or heart lining
- blood clots
People with severe symptoms of aortic stenosis have a risk of sudden death and require prompt treatment.
People may also develop aortic stenosis over time. For example, rheumatic heart disease resulting from rheumatic fever
Additionally, end-stage kidney disease
Being older is a risk factor for aortic stenosis due to calcium buildup in the valve and scarring. This usually begins after a person is
To diagnose aortic stenosis, a doctor will assess any symptoms and ask about the person’s medical history and any risk factors.
- using a stethoscope to listen for any irregular heart sounds or rhythms, or specifically a heart murmur
- feeling the pulse to see how strong it is
- examining the abdomen for signs of an enlarged liver in a newborn
Doctors also use echocardiography to diagnose heart valve problems. Echocardiography uses sound waves to create a moving image of the heart and can show how blood is flowing through the valves and chambers.
If people have no symptoms, they
People may receive a mechanical or tissue valve replacement. A mechanical valve consists of durable metals and other materials. A tissue valve comes from a human donor or animal source.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a procedure that uses minimally invasive surgery, rather than open heart surgery, to insert the valve through a small incision. A surgeon will place the new valve on top of the old one.
TAVR is preferred for older people with calcifications on the aortic valve. Doctors also use this procedure for individuals with other risk factors or those they consider high risk for surgical aortic valve replacement.
People with aortic stenosis who have no symptoms may require routine imaging tests. The timing of these checkups
For example, a person may need them at the following intervals:
- every 3–5 years if their case is mild
- every 1–2 years if their case is moderate
- every 6–12 months if their case is severe
Certain factors may increase the risk of disease progression, including:
- older age
- severe calcification of the heart valve flaps
- high blood pressure
- high levels of fats in the blood
- kidney failure
- metabolic syndrome
- increased levels of lipoprotein(a)
The outlook is excellent for people without symptoms. If people develop symptoms of aortic stenosis, treatment is important to restore blood flow and improve survival rates.
However, if they notice a lack of energy or a drop in regular physical activity, it may be a good idea to contact a doctor to check their heart function.
Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart. This can restrict blood flow to the rest of the body.
People with symptoms may require valve replacement surgery to prevent the condition from progressing.