Aortic stenosis (AS) is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening. This valve controls the flow of blood from the heart to a large artery called the aorta. This artery carries blood from the heart to the rest of body.
AS makes it hard for blood to flow out of the heart. It can lower the amount of blood that goes to the body and cause a back-up of blood into the heart. This back-up can raise pressure in the heart and lungs. AS can range from mild to severe.
The aortic valve is made up of three cusps that open and close together. In babies, AS is caused by a birth defect that may result in:
- One cusp that can’t open as fully as three cusps
- Two cusps that are damaged
- Cusps that are partly closed or do not open the right way due to thickness
The valve can also be damaged by infection.
Factors that may raise your child's chance of AS are:
Mild AS may not cause any problems. More severe AS may cause:
- Extreme lack of energy after activity
- Lightheadedness with activity
- Fainting with activity
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Pain, squeezing, pressure, or tightness of the chest, usually with activity
In rare cases, AS can cause:
- Heart rhythm problems
- Sudden death with no prior health problems
You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may be alerted of AS by:
- Unusual chest sounds, such as a heart murmur or click
- A chest heave or vibration when the doctor's hand is held over your child’s heart
Pictures may be taken to view the heart and structures around it. This can be done with:
Mild AS will be monitored for any changes or problems. Treatment may not be needed right away.
Here are options for moderate to severe AS:
Your child may need to avoid strenuous physical activity, such as competitive sports. Talk to your child’s doctor before your child starts an exercise program.
If needed, your child may be given medicine to lower stress on the heart and help prevent heart failure.
- Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
- Review Date: 06/2018 -
- Update Date: 06/28/2018 -