Congenital Aortic Valve Stenosis

When the aortic valve, which allows the oxygenated blood in the left ventricle to flow into the major artery aorta, is narrowed, it is referred to as aortic valve stenosis.

  • The heart has to work more forcefully to pump the blood out into the aorta through the narrowed valve.
  • A heart murmur is the usual symptom of aortic valve stenosis. Shortness of breath, pain in the chest, and fatigue, are the other symptoms that may occur in some cases.
  • The typical heart murmur and the other symptoms lead to diagnosis.
  • The valve has to be widened surgically, or in some cases, surgery is needed to replace the valve.

When the aortic valve is narrow, the left ventricle has to contract with higher than normal force to push the oxygenated blood into the aorta which supplies to the rest of the body. To maintain adequate blood supply, the heart pumps the blood at high pressure. Often, adequate amount of oxygenated blood does not reach the different parts of the body.

In most cases of congenital aortic valve stenosis, a typical heart murmur may be the only symptom present, especially in young children. As they get older, other symptoms such as shortness of breath and pain in the chest may be felt. Fatigue and occasional fainting may occur. Adolescents with aortic valve stenosis are at risk of sudden death, probably due to irregular heart rhythm resulting from the poor blood supply to the coronary artery which goes to the heart muscle. Irritability, pallor or paleness of skin, fast heart rate, sweating, extreme shortness of breath, and decreased blood pressure, are observed in some infants with aortic valve stenosis.

When a typical heart murmur is detected, or when a child has symptoms, congenital aortic valve stenosis is suspected and further investigations are conducted. Cardiac catheterization may help determine the extent and severity of stenosis.

Surgical options include widening of the valve, as well as valve replacement. Balloon valvulotomy is a procedure used to open up the valve surgically. Severe stenosis and associated symptoms may necessitate the implantation of an artificial valve. Since the risk of clot formation is high with artificial valves, an anticoagulant like warfarin should be taken by those who have them implanted. When heart failure results from aortic valve stenosis, immediate surgical intervention is necessary. Balloon valvuloplasty or surgical correction is done along with drug treatment.

Watch This Video About Congenital Bicuspid Aortic Valve Stenosis:

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Yasser Elnahas

MD, PHD, Professor Of CardioVascular Surgery
Dr. Yasser Elnahas, Is an associate Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery. Dr. Elnahas was trained as a fellow At Texas Heart Institute And Mayo Clinic Foundation.Dr. Elnahas is dedicated to educating the general public about different disease conditions and simplifying the medical knowledge in an easy to understand terminology.

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