Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve in the heart. This forces the heart to work harder to pump blood out of the left ventricle to the rest of the body. In many cases, symptoms may include chest pain, fainting, heart failure, and heart arrhythmias. The treatment for this condition may include options such as lifestyle changes, medications, or even surgery.
Aortic stenosis is a condition in which the aortic valve is narrowed.
The aortic valve is on the left side of the heart. It separates the left ventricle and the entrance to the aorta, the artery that carries blood to the body. Valves are like doors that open and close. They open to allow blood to flow through to the next chamber or to one of the arteries, and then they shut to keep blood from flowing backwards. The aortic valve opens when the left ventricle contracts. This allows blood to flow into the aorta. The aortic valve closes to prevent blood from coming back into the left ventricle.
In aortic stenosis, the aortic valve does not open all the way. This forces the heart to work harder to pump blood out of the left ventricle to the rest of the body. Over time, the left ventricle thickens and becomes less effective in pumping blood.
Aortic stenosis can be caused by several health issues, including:
- Conditions a person is born with (congenital defects)
- A bicuspid aortic valve (a valve that only has two leaflets instead of three)
- Calcium buildup on the valve
- Inflammation from rheumatic fever.
Most of these conditions cause a thickening of the aortic valve, making it unable to fully open.
Aortic stenosis is three times more common in males than females. Symptoms usually begin after the age of 60, but can occur in children and young adults due to congenital conditions, such as a bicuspid valve.