The aortic valve is one of four heart valves in the heart. It opens to allow blood to flow into the aorta—the main artery that carries blood out of the heart to your body. If you have aortic valve stenosis, more commonly known as aortic stenosis, the valve does not open fully. This abnormal narrowing of the valve (stenosis) makes it difficult for blood to flow from the heart to the body and can weaken the heart. Blood can then back up into your lungs. In severe cases, not enough blood reaches the brain and the rest of your body.
Aortic stenosis is one of the most common valve diseases and usually develops later in life. It often results from a buildup of calcium on the valve. You may also develop aortic stenosis after having rheumatic fever, a condition that can result from untreated strep throat, or other infections that can damage the valve. Some people are born with a damaged valve (see congenital heart defects).
If you have aortic stenosis, you may not notice anything different at first. Symptoms can take a long time to develop. These may include fainting; chest pain; or feeling short of breath, weak or overly tired, especially with activity. Your doctor may also notice you have a heart murmur.
Treatment will depend on how severe your condition and symptoms are, but may include medications or surgery. You may also be told to avoid competitive sports or other vigorous activities. Use this condition center to learn more about living with aortic stenosis. You can also read about the latest research, create a list of questions to ask your doctor and more.