Aortic Stenosis

Aortic valve stenosis (aortic stenosis) happens when the aortic valve inside your heart doesn’t open fully. This narrowed opening restricts blood flow from your heart to your body. 

The aorta is the main artery (blood vessel) that carries blood out of your heart. Blood flows from your heart into the aorta through the aortic valve. When your aortic valve narrows, it becomes difficult for the left ventricle (lower left heart chamber) to pump blood out through the valve.

As your heart works harder, heart muscles can thicken and you may feel chest pain. As pressure rises, blood may back up into your lungs. Severe aortic stenosis can limit the amount of blood that gets to your brain and the rest of your body.

Causes of Aortic Stenosis

Sometimes, aortic stenosis is congenital (present at birth). More often, it develops later in life. Aortic stenosis typically occurs during aging as calcium deposits or scarring build up and cause the valve to narrow. The narrowing can happen sooner if you have congenital valve disorder, such as a valve that didn’t form or develop properly. Narrowing may also happen more quickly if you have previously received chest radiation, such as cancer therapy. 

Certain conditions such as untreated strep throat, rheumatic fever or scarlet fever can lead to valve problems years later. Tell your doctor if you have had any of these conditions.

Symptoms of Aortic Stenosis

You may not have any symptoms of aortic valve disease. Sometimes, symptoms don’t appear until much later, as stenosis advances and blood flow is more severely limited.   

Aortic stenosis symptoms in adults may include:

  • Breathlessness (shortness of breath)
  • Becoming easily tired
  • Weakness, dizziness or difficulty breathing during exercise
  • Chest pain (angina), pressure or tightness, which may increase during activity and reach your arm, neck or jaw
  • Fainting
  • Palpitations (feeling your heartbeat) or heavy, pounding heartbeats
  • Heart murmur (abnormal heartbeat)

Symptoms of aortic stenosis in infants and children may include:

  • Tiring easily during mild exertion
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Poor feeding
  • Breathing problems 

Children with mild aortic stenosis may get worse as they get older. 

Diagnosing Aortic Stenosis

Doctors may run a few tests, including advanced diagnostic imaging – such as MRI and echocardiography (ultrasound) to diagnose aortic stenosis. Diagnosis sometimes involves minimally invasive procedures, such as cardiac catheterization, to evaluate your condition. 

Treatment for Aortic Stenosis

If you have no obvious symptoms or a mild condition, doctors may recommend follow-up checkups to monitor your heart health. For more advanced aortic stenosis, your treatment plan may include minimally invasive surgery or other procedures to repair or replace your aortic valve. 

The Orlando Health cardiovascular group offers some of the latest minimally invasive techniques to treat heart valve conditions. Our team will evaluate your condition and develop a treatment plan for you.

Contact Us

To contact us or schedule an appointment, call 321.841.4324.