Search:
 
 
   
Expand Window Full Screen
Other Names:
Aortic Valve Stenosis
Aortic Stenosis

On this page:

Definition

Aortic stenosis is the narrowing or obstruction of the aortic valve. This narrowing or obstruction prevents it from opening properly and blocks the flow of blood from the left ventricle to the aorta.

Return to top Return to top

Causes

  • The commonest cause of aortic stenosis is rheumatic fever which is a complication of untreated streptococcal throat infection.
  • Calcification of the aortic valve.
  • Congenital abnormalities of the aortic valve which may be present at birth.

Return to top Return to top

Incidence

Aortic stenosis occurs in approximately 5 out of every 10,000 people. It is more common among men. This condition may remain asymptomatic until middle age or older.

Return to top Return to top

Symptoms

  • Fainting or syncopal attacks
  • Feeling of weakness and breathlessness with activity
  • Palpitations
  • dizziness
  • Chest pain under the sternum. The pain may be crushing, squeezing, pressure like or just tightness of the chest. The pain may increase with exercise and relieved with rest
  • Aortic stenosis may show no symptoms until late in the course of the disease.

Return to top Return to top

Physical Examination

  • Examination of the chest shows a palpable chest thrill which is vibration that is felt by holding the hand over the heart.
  • A heart murmur which is an abnormal sound, can be heard on examination of the chest with a stethoscope.
  • The pulse may be faint.
  • Blood pressure may be below the normal limits.

Return to top Return to top

Treatment

  • Asymptomatic condition or mild symptoms may require only observation
  • Moderate to severe problem may require hospitalization.
  • Medications can include diuretics, digoxin, and other medications to control heart failure.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity.
  • Get a physical exam every 6 to 12 months and an ECG performed every 1 to 3 years.
  • Surgical repair or replacement of the valve is the preferred treatment for symptomatic aortic stenosis.
  • Patients with advanced heart failure may benefit from a procedure called balloon valvuloplasty. This is a procedure in which a balloon is placed into an artery in the groin, advanced to the heart, placed across the valve and inflated. This may relieve the obstruction caused by the narrowed valve.

Return to top Return to top

Prognosis

Aortic stenosis is almost always cured with surgical repair. There may be a continued risk for arrhythmias and sometimes sudden death. The person may be asymptomatic until complications of aortic stenosis develop. Without surgery, probably the prognosis of this disease is quite poor especially if there are signs of angina or heart failure.

Return to top Return to top

Complications

  • Left ventricular hypertrophy (enlargement) caused by the extra work of pushing blood through the narrowed valve
  • Left-sided heart failure
  • Arrhythmias
  • Endocarditis or valve infection

Return to top Return to top

Prevention

  • Streptococcal infection of the throat should be treated promptly to prevent rheumatic fever, which can cause aortic stenosis.
  • Any dental work like cleaning or any invasive procedure can introduce bacteria into the bloodstream. This bacteria can infect a weakened valve causing endocarditis.

Follow your physicians treatment recommendations for conditions that may cause valve disease. Notify your physician if there is a family history of congenital heart diseases.

Return to top Return to top

Aortic Stenosis