Aortic Stenosis | Causes, Symptoms, Treatment | MedStar Health

What is aortic stenosis?

Aortic stenosis, also known as aortic valve stenosis, is a narrowing of the aortic valve. This valve allows blood to flow from the heart into the aorta, which carries blood to the rest of the body. If your aortic valve is narrowed, blood can’t flow through properly, and the heart has to pump harder than it should.

Over time, this heart valve disease can cause the heart muscle to thicken and weaken. Without proper treatment, this condition can lead to:

Aortic stenosis is a complex condition that requires expert care. Our Structural Heart/Valvular Heart Disease program provides complete care for this and other heart conditions. If traditional valve replacement surgery isn’t a good option for you, we offer transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive advanced treatment option. Our program was one of the first five sites in the country in 2007 to evaluate this advanced treatment. Our aortic stenosis services are available in the Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Maryland areas. 

Aortic stenosis symptoms

You may not notice symptoms for many years. As the aortic valve narrows, however, you may experience problems, especially during exercise or other activity that makes the heart work harder.

Aortic stenosis symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain, pressure, or tightness
  • Dizziness, fainting, or weakness
  • Feeling tired
  • Heart palpitations

  • Shortness of breath

Let your doctor know right away if you notice any of these symptoms.

Aortic stenosis causes and risk factors

There are a number of reasons the aortic valve can narrow. These can include:

How is aortic stenosis diagnosed? 

Angiogram (Angiography)

An angiogram is a special X-ray taken as a special dye is injected through a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to detect blockages or aneurysms in blood vessels.

Cardiac Catheterization

Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.


An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.

Transesophageal Echocardiogram (TEE)

Transesophageal echocardiogram allows us to take very detailed images of your heart structure from a probe in your esophagus.

Types of aortic stenosis treatments

You may not need treatment right away for this condition. Your doctor will monitor your condition with regular exams. In severe cases, you may need an aortic valve replacement.

We’ve also been involved with every major study of transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) since it first became available in the United States, which may be an option if you are at high or moderate risk of complications from traditional open-heart surgery.

Aortic Valve Repair and Replacement

Aortic valve repair and replacement procedures include minimally invasive and traditional surgery as well as several types of replacement material.

Balloon Aortic Valvuloplasty

Aortic valvuloplasty is a minimally invasive procedure to open the aortic valve inside your heart.

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