Aortic stenosis

Aortic stenosis

Do you know how aortic stenosis affects the aortic valve?
Read our article to find out more.

Living life to the full is important. However, aortic stenosis can be life-threatening if it is not detected and treated.

The aortic valve

The heart has four valves, which play an important role in pumping the right amount of blood through the body. One of these valves is the aortic valve. It has thin flaps of tissue that open and close as the heart beats to regulate blood flow. An aortic valve usually has three flaps and is called a "tricuspid aortic valve". Sometimes the aortic valve may only have two flaps and so is called a "bicuspid aortic valve".
Aortic stenosis is also referred to "aortic valve stenosis" or “stenosis of the aorta".

LThe causes of aortic stenosis

There are four main causes of aortic stenosis.

Calcium buildup

In most older people, aortic stenosis is caused by a buildup of calcium (a mineral found in the blood) on the valve flaps. Over time, the flaps become rigid, causing the aortic valve opening to narrow and preventing it from opening and closing fully as it should. As the opening narrows, it becomes increasingly difficult for the heart to pump blood.

Birth defects

A normal aortic valve has three flaps. But people are sometimes born with an aortic valve that has one, two or four flaps. When such a defect is present, it can cause valve problems, such as a leak.

Acute articular rheumatism

A strep throat infection can lead to rheumatic fever, which in turn can cause scar tissue to form in the heart. When this happens, the aortic valve may not be able to open and close normally.

Radiation therapy

Some people may develop inflammation and scar tissue after undergoing radiation therapy. This can make the aortic valve stiff and unable to function properly.

How is aortic stenosis diagnosed?

An echocardiogram (a non-invasive test that checks the proper functioning of heart valves) can help to diagnose aortic stenosis.

Is it possible to predict the onset of aortic stenosis?

It is possible to play an active role in diagnosing this disease in order to better manage it. It's important to::

- pay attention to your body to detect new or worsening symptoms;
- be honest with yourself and your doctor about any changes in your condition;
- have regular check-ups with your family doctor.

What are the treatments for aortic stenosis?

There are two ways to treat it:

- Open-heart surgery, an operation that requires a recovery period lasting several weeks and is not recommended for the elderly, patients with other diseases or who have already had heart surgery, or who have contraindications for surgery.
- Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI).


In patients who have already had aortic valve replacement by surgery or TAVI, it is possible to perform a valve-in-valve TAVI within a degenerated prosthetic valve.

To better understand the dangers of severe aortic stenosis and treatment options, visit

Sources:, HUG Hôpitaux Universitaires Genève.