Stenosis of the Aortic Valve

by Michael_Koger

Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of that valve of the heart, and it can have serious consequences later in life.

Stenosis of the aortic valve occurs in three percent of people between the ages of 75 and 85 in rich countries. Of those in developed regions of the globe with the disease who are more than 85 years old, it is present in four percent of the population. There are several forms of valvular heart disease in humans, but this condition is the most common in rich countries [1, 2].

It may occur at birth as a developmental anomaly during pregnancy, and these clients may have a bicuspid valve of the aorta. This means that the aorta has only two flaps to regulate the flow of blood from the left ventricle of the heart whereas in normal individuals, there are three flaps. Nevertheless, most people who have a stenotic aortic valve have developed it through the adult years with calcification and scarring [1, 2].

In fact, it may first become manifest at the age of 60, and signs and symptoms progress gradually over the next two decades [1, 2].

Left Ventricular Hypertrophy

In any event, there is a problem with the flow of blood from the left ventricle through the narrowed aortic valve.  The result is a diminution in the amount of oxygenated blood to all parts of the body.  Moreover, since the coronary arteries supply blood to the heart muscle itself, the pumping ability of the heart declines [1, 2].

The heart attempts to compensate for the situation as the left ventricle enlarges and develops hypertrophy.  This leads to a reduction of space for blood in the chambers of the heart.  In other words, the enlargement or thickening of heart muscle encroaches upon the volume of blood which the heart can retain and send to all parts of the human body [1, 2].

The left ventricle needs additional oxygen to address the predicament, but this vicious cycle prevents the supply of oxygen [1, 2].

Obviously, the presence of left ventricular dysfunction is an ominous scenario for anyone who has stenosis of the aortic valve.  However, many options are available to improve the quality of life for these patients, and that will be the subject of the next article.


Aortic stenosis is a serious medical condition, and it requires early diagnosis and management.


  1. McCarthy, C., Phelan, D. and Griffin, B.  (2016).  When does asymptomatic aortic stenosis warrant surgery?  Assessment techniques.  Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 83, 271-280.
  2. American Heart Association.  (2013).  Problem:  Aortic Valve Stenosis.  Retrieved May 4, 2016.
  3. The photo shows damage from a stenotic aortic valve in a patient with rheumatic heart disease.  Reprinted with permission from U.S. Centers for Disease Control/Dr. Edwin P. Ewing, Jr.


The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact their physician for advice.

Updated: 05/08/2016, Michael_Koger
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