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Heart Valve Problems: Aortic Stenosis

Aortic stenosis means your aortic valve has a problem opening. The left ventricle has to work harder to push the blood through the valve. In some cases, this extra work will make the muscle of the ventricle thicken. In time, the extra work can tire the heart and cause the heart muscle to weaken. Stenosis usually get worse slowly, over many years. But sometimes it can quickly get worse.

Possible causes

Calcium deposits can form on the aortic valve as you get older. These deposits make the valve stiff and hard to open. In some cases, you may have been born with an abnormal aortic valve. Or your aortic valve may have been damaged by rheumatic fever or a heart infection.

 

Cross section of heart showing aortic valve with stenosis.
Open aortic valve with stenosis (viewed from above).
Top view of open aortic valve with stenosis.

Treating aortic stenosis

In many cases, treatment won’t be needed unless you have symptoms. If you do have symptoms, medicines may help relieve them. If the stenosis is severe, your doctor may recommend surgery to replace the valve, even if you don’t have symptoms.

Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Gandelman, Glenn, MD, MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Image reviewed by StayWell medical illustration team.
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2016
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