Aortic valve stenosis happens when there is stiffening of the aortic valve. The aortic valve is a major valve of the heart that helps transport blood from the heart to the rest of the body. When the valve stiffens or narrows, it cannot open fully, which reduces the amount of blood going to the aorta and on to the rest of the body. This forces the heart to work harder and may eventually cause problems in the heart muscle.
Disease severity ranges dramatically, with symptoms usually only becoming noticeable once the condition is severe. The symptoms may only be prevalent or become exacerbated during strenuous activity and include chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, and abnormal heart sounds. Over time, the progression of this condition may lead to heart failure.
Aortic stenosis can be congenital, in which the condition is present at birth due to a heart defect. The condition may also be caused by calcium buildup on the aortic valve, which develops over time. Finally, rheumatic fever, which can be a complication of strep throat infection, may cause a buildup of scar tissue on the aortic valve which then also leads to narrowing of the valve. Risk factors for aortic valve stenosis include older age, other congenital heart conditions, history of infections that affect the heart, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and chronic kidney disease.
Aortic valve stenosis may be diagnosed through taking a medical history, conducting a physical exam, and using tests such as an echocardiogram, ECG, and chest x-ray to get clearer images of the heart. Treatment varies on a case by case basis and often depends on the severity of the disease. Treatment may include regular follow-up appointments with a cardiologist, medications to reduce symptoms, and even surgeries such as aortic valve repair and aortic valve replacement.
Description Last Updated: Sep 03, 2018