What is aortic stenosis?

The aortic valve facilitates blood flow to your aorta, your body's main artery, and to other areas of the body. "Stenosis" or narrowing of the valve may occur as a result of calcium buildup, causing thickening and hardening of the valve, and making it more difficult for blood to flow freely. Aortic stenosis, also called aortic valve stenosis, may also be caused by infections, such as endocarditis, or rheumatic fever, caused by strep throat complications. In some people, aortic stenosis is congenital, something they were born with.

Symptoms of aortic stenosis

The narrowing process usually takes many years and symptoms may not come on for some time. When symptoms appear, they are usually triggered by exercise and may include:

  • Angina
  • Dizziness
  • Faintness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath, tiredness

Diagnosis and testing for aortic stenosis

Another sign of aortic stenosis is a heart murmur, which may be detected by your doctor during a routine physical exam. At that point, your doctor may recommend some additional testing, such as an echocardiogram, which takes moving pictures of your heart. Additional tests may include an MRI, an exercise stress test, electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG), and diagnostic cardiac catheterization.


Treatment for mild aortic valve stenosis may include some combination of dietary change along with medication and ongoing monitoring by your primary care physician. In more severe cases, stenosis may lead to heart failure and other heart conditions that may require advanced therapies and surgical treatments, such as surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) or transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

Aortic Valve Repair

A technique that allows cardiovascular surgeons to repair the aortic valve and replace the enlarged ascending aorta from the sinotubular jugular to the arch is called the David procedure and is routinely performed at Lankenau Heart Institute. Learn more about aortic valve repair.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

This groundbreaking procedure for the treatment of severe aortic stenosis is now being offered at Lankenau. Transcatheter aortic valve replacement, TAVR, is a procedure that allows the diseased aortic valve to be replaced without open heart surgery.

Surgical Aortic Valve Replacement (SAVR)

For more than 50 years, surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) has been the standard treatment for severe symptomatic aortic stenosis and for aortic regurgitation.


Also known as PTBV (percutaneous transluminal balloon valvuloplasty), valvuloplasty is a procedure to treat narrowed mitral valves or narrowed aortic valves.