Aortic stenosis, also known as aortic valve stenosis, is a heart condition in which the aortic valve of the heart narrows, preventing it from opening fully. This cuts off or reduces blood flow from the heart to the aorta (the main artery of the body) and the rest of the body, causing the heart to work harder than usual, according to the Mayo Clinic.

As a result, less blood can be pumped to the body, which can lead to serious health problems.

Signs and Symptoms of Aortic Stenosis

Per the American Heart Association (AHA), symptoms of aortic stenosis include:
  • Chest pain
  • Breathlessness or trouble breathing
  • Fainting, dizziness, or feeling lightheaded
  • Rapid, fluttering heartbeat
  • Swollen feet or ankles
  • Becoming tired quickly during normal activities, including walking
  • Trouble sleeping

Not everyone with aortic stenosis has noticeable symptoms. In fact, many people don’t experience symptoms until the amount of restricted blood flow is significant. If you do experience symptoms, see your doctor, who can check the severity of the aortic stenosis and for reduced heart function.

Symptoms of aortic stenosis in infants and children due to a congenital defect include:

  • Inability to gain weight
  • Fatigue during normal activities
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Trouble breathing

Risk Factors

Risk factors for aortic stenosis include:

  • Aging
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Infections that affect the heart
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Radiation therapy to the chest

Duration of Aortic Stenosis

Aortic stenosis due to aging usually begins after you turn 60; however, you may not experience symptoms until age 70 or 80, according to the AHA.

As such, you may experience aortic stenosis for decades without realizing it.

Complications of Aortic Stenosis

Initially, aortic stenosis may be mild with no symptoms, notes the Mayo Clinic.However, over time, the following complications can occur:
  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Infections that affect the heart
  • Death

BIPOC Communities and Aortic Stenosis

Aortic stenosis may be underdiagnosed in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) populations. According to a January 2020 study published in the journal JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions, patients from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups — in the study data, this included Black, Hispanic, and Asian patients — are diagnosed with aortic stenosis less frequently than white patients even though they tend to have more of the traditional risk factors (such as chronic kidney disease, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes).This may be because the diagnosis is frequently missed in these patients.

Additionally, the study found that individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups are less likes than white patients to have aortic valve replacement surgery; however, they are more likely to experience post-surgery complications including bleeding, worsening heart failure, and readmission to the hospital. Patients from underrepresented groups with severe aortic stenosis are also at a higher risk for morbidity and mortality compared with white patients.

Resources We Love

Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization that specializes in clinical practice, education, and research. Its website offers information about the symptoms, causes, risk factors, complications, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of aortic stenosis.

American Heart Association (AHA)

The AHA is the country’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Its website offers information about the symptoms, risk factors, and treatment of aortic stenosis.


MedlinePlus is a service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the world's largest medical library, which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It offers information about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of aortic stenosis.

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

  • Aortic Valve Stenosis. Mayo Clinic. August 7, 2020.
  • Aortic Stenosis Overview. American Heart Association. October 26, 2020.
  • Medications for Heart Valve Symptoms. American Heart Association. May 11, 2020.
  • Aortic Valve Surgery — Minimally Invasive. MedlinePlus. November 3, 2020.
  • Aortic Stenosis. MedlinePlus. November 3, 2020.
  • Wilson JB, Jackson LR, Ugowe FE, et al. Racial and Ethnic Differences in Treatment and Outcomes of Severe Aortic Stenosis: A Review. JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions. January 13, 2020.
  • Grimard BH, Saffrod RE, Burns EL. Aortic Stenosis: Diagnosis and Treatment. American Family Physician. March 1, 2016.


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