Aortic stenosis

Alternative Names

Aortic valve stenosis; Left ventricular outflow tract obstruction; Rheumatic aortic stenosis; Calcium aortic stenosis

Definition of Aortic stenosis

The aorta is the main artery carrying blood out of the heart. When blood leaves the heart, it flows through the aortic valve, into the aorta. In aortic stenosis, the aortic valve does not open fully. This decreases blood flow from the heart.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

As the aortic valve becomes more narrow, the pressure increases inside the left heart ventricle. This causes the left heart ventricle to become thicker, which decreases blood flow and can lead to chest pain. As the pressure continues to rise, blood may back up into the lungs, and you may feel short of breath. Severe forms of aortic stenosis prevent enough blood from reaching the brain and rest of the body. This can cause light-headedness and fainting.

Symptoms

People with aortic stenosis may have no symptoms at all until late in the course of the disease. The diagnosis may have been made when the healthcare provider heard a heart murmur and then performed additional tests.

Signs and tests

The health care provider will be able to feel a vibration or movement when placing a hand over the person’s heart. A heart murmur, click, or other abnormal sound is almost always heard through a stethoscope. There may be a faint pulse or changes in the quality of the pulse in the neck (this is called pulsus parvus et tardus).

Treatment

If there are no symptoms or symptoms are mild, you may only need to be monitored by a health care provider.

Expectations (prognosis)

Without surgery, a person with aortic stenosis who has angina or signs of heart failure may do poorly.

Review

Issam Mikati, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 5/7/2010

Heart, section through the middle
Heart, front view
Aortic stenosis
Heart valves

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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