Aortic stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve. The aortic valve is a gate-like structure that is located between the lower left chamber of the heart (left ventricle) and the blood vessel that leads away from the heart (aorta). When the aortic valve is narrowed, it does not open all the way. This makes it hard for the heart to pump blood into the aorta and causes the heart to work harder. The extra work can weaken the heart over time and may lead to heart failure.
Aortic stenosis can range from mild to severe. If untreated, it can become more severe over time.
This condition may be caused by:
• Buildup of calcium around the valve. This can occur with aging. This is the most common cause of aortic stenosis.
• Birth defect.
• Rheumatic fever.
• Damage from toxic medicines or radiation to the chest.
• Inflammation of various tissues of the body (systemic lupus erythematosus).
You may be more likely to develop this condition if you:
• Are over the age of 65.
You may have no symptoms until your condition becomes severe. It may take 10–20 years for mild or moderate aortic stenosis to become severe. Symptoms may include:
• Shortness of breath. This may get worse during physical activity.
• Feeling unusually weak and tired (fatigued).
• Extreme discomfort in the chest, neck, or arm (angina).
• A heartbeat that is irregular or faster than normal (palpitations).
• Dizziness or fainting. This may happen when you get physically tired or after you take certain heart medicines, such as nitroglycerin.
When babies are born with aortic stenosis, they usually develop symptoms within the first 2 years of life. These symptoms may include:
• A blue color in their fingertips or toenails.
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...e taking prescription pain medicine.
• If you are a woman and you plan to become pregnant , talk with your health care provider before you become pregnant.
• Tell all health care providers who care for you that you have aortic stenosis.
• Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.
SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:
• You have a fever.
SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:
• You develop chest pain or tightness.
• You develop shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
• You feel light-headed.
• You feel like you might faint.
• Your heartbeat is irregular or faster than normal.
These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.
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