What Is Aortic Valve Stenosis?

Illustration of aortic stenosis

There are four valves in your heart, and these very thin membranes open and close to allow normal blood flow. The aortic valve allows the blood to pass between the left ventricle and the aorta. Aortic Stenosis – also called aortic valve stenosis – happens when this valve narrows, preventing normal blood flow.

While aortic valve stenosis can develop as a result of a congenital heart condition such as bicuspid aortic valve disease, most people will develop aortic valve stenosis as they age. Over time, the valve tissue becomes stiff and unyielding due to scarring or calcium buildup. 

What are the Symptoms of Aortic Valve Stenosis?

As one of the most common valve diseases, aortic valve stenosis can also be one of the most serious. As the valves work harder to circulate the blood, the heart gradually becomes weaker and your risk of heart failure increases. As your condition progresses, you will experience the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Difficulty exercising

If you are symptomatic, you must undergo treatment as soon as possible.

Diagnosis of Aortic Valve Stenosis

Aortic stenosis is most often detected using an echocardiogram.

The following tests may also be performed:

  • ECG
  • Exercise stress testing
  • Left cardiac catheterization
  • MRI of the heart
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE)

Treatment at Penn

Once diagnosed with aortic stenosis, you will require surgery to replace the valve. Penn Medicine is a leading center for the most challenging heart valve cases, offering a variety of approaches not commonly available at other medical centers.

Penn Medicine has extensive experience performing both open-heart surgery and Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacements (TAVR). TAVR is a less invasive procedure for patients with severe aortic stenosis who aren't candidates for traditional open-heart surgery.

Penn Medicine has performed more than 1200 TAVR procedures and is recognized as a national leader in the procedure.

Penn Programs & Services for Aortic Valve Stenosis

Heart Valve Disease Program

Performing more valve surgeries than any other hospital in Pennsylvania

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