Aortic Valve Stenosis

The aortic valve is a valve that separates the left ventricle (the heart's pumping chamber) from the aorta or the major artery that supplies blood to the body.

In aortic valve stenosis, calcium buildup in the valve leaflets cause them to stiffen and fail to open completely. When the heart beats, blood flowing out of the left ventricle is impeded thus causing pressure to build up in the chamber. In time, this can cause the thickening of the heart wall, as well as enlargement and weakening of the heart.

Thickened and fused leaflets in aortic valve stenosis.
Aortic valve stenosis: thickened and fused aortic valve leaflets.

In this condition, the aortic valve leaflets can also fail to close completely - this causes blood to flow backward from the aorta into the heart in a condition called aortic valve regurgitation.

In a related condition called idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis (IHSS), the muscle beneath the aortic valve thickened. Although the valve remains normal, because of the narrowed passage, blood flow is impeded.

Aortic Valve Stenosis Symptoms

The symptoms of aortic valve stenosis are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Loss of conciousness or fainting, especially after strenuous physical activity

These symptoms usually do not show until middle age, although idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis (IHSS) can cause sudden death in healthy young people.


Your doctor would perform the following tests:

  • Physical examination
    A characteristic heart murmur (harsh murmur during heart contraction and soft murmur in the relaxation) can be observed with a stethoscope. Your doctor would also look for signs of weak pulse in the carotid artery.

  • Electrocardiogram or ECG
    Aortic valve stenosis would show enlargement of the left heart chamber and abnormal shape of the aortic valve.

  • Cardiac catheterization
    By injecting a dye into the heart through a catheter inserted in the arm or leg, your doctor can visualize the abnormal shape of the aortic valve.

Aortic Valve Stenosis Treatment

People who are diagnosed with heart valve abnormality should always notify their doctor, surgeon, and dentist before any medical procedure in order to get a precautionary dose of antibiotics. This is because people with heart abnormality are predisposed to getting bacterial infection of the heart or endocarditis.

Treatment for aortic valve stenosis include:

  • Medications to strengthen heart beats
  • Blood-thinning medications
  • Heart valve surgery
    Usually heart valve replacement is required once symptoms begin to show.


When the symptoms begin, the prognosis without surgery is poor. Although heart valve replacement surgery does carry a low risk of dying (2 to 5% mortality rate), the patient's post-surgical prognosis is much improved.

Main Menu
Health Articles
Health News
Health Research
Site Map

Health Conditions
Cardiovascular Health
Digestive Health
Infectous Diseases
Musculoskeletal Health
Pregnancy & Childbirth
Skin Health

Misc. Health Articles
Presidential Diseases

Cardiovascular Condition
All Cardiovascular Conditions


©copyright 2004 - Health In Plain English. All Rights Reserved.

Health Articles Health News Health Research Explained in Plain English