Heart disease: aortic stenosis

Aortic stenosis is an unpredictable heart condition that can cause sudden death. Sometimes there have been no complaints before this death, but usually there are complaints. People with aortic stenosis may feel tired, dizzy, short of breath, and may faint with exertion.

About aortic stenosis

The heart consists of four chambers, two of which are antechambers. The two antechambers are also called atria. The atria pump blood to the ventricles. The chambers pump blood into the arteries, after which the blood is distributed throughout the body. Aortic stenosis is caused by a narrowing of the aortic valve. The aortic valve closes when the left ventricle relaxes. This prevents blood from flowing back into the chamber. At the next heartbeat, the aortic valve must be opened again. In people with aortic stenosis, the valve opens poorly. So less blood can flow through it and this can have major consequences for your body.


  • The most common cause of aortic stenosis is calcification of the aortic valve. This mainly occurs in older people. Limescale may have built up near the valve and this makes the valve stiff and difficult to open. This problem can start small and worsen later.
  • Another cause is the incorrect functioning of antibodies in your body. Acute rheumatism is a condition that can occur due to an infection with a bacteria. Your body produces antibodies against this bacteria. However, these antibodies not only attack the bacteria, but also other parts of the body. Your heart valves may be affected and thus lose their flexible function.
  • Inflammation can also occur in your heart valve, which seriously limits the functioning of your heart valve.
  • Aortic stenosis can also be caused by a congenital heart defect. This could be a narrowing of the aorta, but also Williams Syndrome, for example. This is a congenital developmental disorder characterized by disability and problems with the arteries.



  • With a small narrowing of the aorta, the patient may not experience any symptoms. However, it is possible that a patient nevertheless dies suddenly.
  • Complaints mainly occur during exertion. The heart then has to work harder to supply all tissues with sufficient blood and it is logical that your heart rate increases. Only then do the limitations of a narrowed aorta become clearly apparent. During exercise, people may become dizzy, faint, or experience chest pain. This is because the blood supply to the body – and therefore also to the head – is severely limited.
  • Because the blood supply is reduced, one may also often feel tired. The tissues are not accurately supplied with oxygen, which hinders combustion in the cells. As a result, less glucose is produced and people will be more tired.



Before a patient is treated, a diagnosis must first be made. This diagnosis is initially made using a stethoscope. An abnormal sound can be heard. The pulse pressure is then measured. This gives a smaller difference between systolic and diastolic pressure than usual. An electrocardiogram may show that the left ventricle is thickened, which may indicate aortic stenosis. The calcification of the aortic valve can be globally mapped with an X-ray.Once a patient has been diagnosed with aortic stenosis, treatment is required. The type of treatment depends on the cause of aortic stenosis and the severity of the condition. In most cases, surgical intervention is required. For example, the aortic valve can be replaced by a mechanical valve. Repairing the valve can also be attempted. In some cases, surgery is not suitable and special substances can be used to widen the aorta. The effect of this is usually temporary and therefore this treatment method is not preferred.

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