What is the definition of Aortic Valve Stenosis?
Aortic valve stenosis (AVS) is a condition characterized by narrowing of the heart's aortic valve opening. This narrowing prevents the valve from opening fully, which obstructs blood flow from the heart into the aorta, and onward to the rest of the body. AVS can range from mild to severe. Signs and symptoms typically develop when the narrowing of the opening is severe and may include chest pain (angina) or tightness; shortness of breath or fatigue (especially during exertion); feeling faint or fainting; heart palpitations; and heart murmur. Individuals with less severe congenital AVS (present at birth) may not develop symptoms until adulthood. Individuals with severe cases may faint without warning. The condition can eventually lead to heart failure. AVS can have several causes including abnormal development before birth (such as having 1 or 2 valve leaflets instead of 3); calcium build-up on the valve in adulthood; and rheumatic fever. Treatment may include medications to ease the symptoms, but surgery to repair or replace the valve is the only way to eliminate the condition.
What are the alternative names for Aortic Valve Stenosis?
- Aortic stenosis
- Valvular aortic stenosis
What are the causes for Aortic Valve Stenosis?
Aortic valve stenosis can be congenital (present at birth) or can develop later in life. When the condition is congenital, it is typically due to abnormal development of the aortic valve - either it forms abnormally narrow, or it is made up of one flap or leaflet (called a unicuspid valve, which is very rare) or two leaflets (bicuspid valve) instead of the usual three. Having a bicuspid valve can run in families. A bicuspid valve may not cause any problems until adulthood, when the valve begins to narrow or leak. In most cases, the exact underlying cause of congenital aortic valve stenosis is unknown. Aortic valve stenosis can also be caused by the buildup of calcium deposits on the heart valve with increasing age. This cause is most common in people older than 65. Rheumatic fever can also cause the condition because it may result in scar tissue forming on the valve, causing the leaflets to stiffen and fuse. Rheumatic fever can also cause a rough surface on the valve, which can lead to accumulation of calcium deposits later in life.