Aortic Stenosis -- Adult

The aortic valve is located between the left ventricle of the heart and the aorta, which is the largest artery in the body. The aorta supplies blood throughout the body. Aortic stenosis (AS) is a narrowing of the aortic valve that could block blood flow from the heart and cause a back-up of flow and pressure in the heart and to the lungs. AS can range from mild to severe.

  • Causes

    The main causes of AS include:


    • A birth defect of the aortic valve, which normally has three cusps:

      • A two-part aortic valve becomes stenotic with progressive wear and tear
      • An aortic valve that has only one cusp or has stenosis from birth
    • Progressive hardening and calcification of the aortic valve with age

    • Scarring of the aortic valve caused by
      rheumatic fever—rare

  • Definition

    The aortic valve is located between the left ventricle of the heart and the aorta, which is the largest artery in the body. The aorta supplies blood throughout the body. Aortic stenosis (AS) is a narrowing of the aortic valve that could block blood flow from the heart and cause a back-up of flow and pressure in the heart and to the lungs. AS can range from mild to severe.

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may be alerted to AS by the following:


    • Abnormal chest sounds such as a
      heart murmur
      or clicking sound
    • Noticeable chest heave or vibration when the doctor's hand is held over your heart

    Images may need to be taken of your chest. This can be done with:

    • Chest x-ray
    • Electrocardiogram
    • Echocardiogram
    • Cardiac catheterization

  • Prevention

    AS cannot be prevented. But if you have AS, there are several things you can do to try to avoid some of the complications, such as:

    • Get regular medical care, including exams and tests.
    • Only certain people with AS need antibiotics before dental or medical procedures. Ask your doctor if you need antibiotics to prevent infection of the heart valve.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase the risk of AS include:

    • Gender: male
    • Family members with heart disease that affects the valves
    • History of rheumatic fever
    • Hypertension
    • Hypercholesterolemia
    • Diabetes mellitus
    • Smoking

  • Symptoms

    AS does not always produce symptoms. But if symptoms do occur, they may include:

    • Extreme fatigue after exercise or exertion
    • Fainting with exercise or exertion
    • Pain, squeezing, pressure, or tightness of the chest usually occurring with exertion
    • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
    • Shortness of breath
    • Lightheadedness with exertion

    • Neurological symptoms of a
      stroke
      or
      transient ischemic attack


    In rare cases, AS can cause abnormal heart rhythms known as
    arrhythmia,
    or sudden death with no previous symptoms.

  • Treatment

    If you have mild AS, your condition will be monitored, but may not need immediate treatment. If you have more severe AS, your doctor may advise you to avoid strenuous physical activity. If necessary, you may be given medicines to help prevent heart failure. If needed, you may be prescribed medicine, and surgery may be required.