Aortic valve stenosis (also known simply as aortic stenosis) is a condition that affects the aortic valve, a part of the heart that plays an important role in how blood is pumped to the body.

The aortic valve connects the heart’s lower left chamber to the body’s largest artery, the aorta. As it opens and closes, it controls the flow of blood from the heart to the rest of the body.

With aortic valve stenosis, the aortic valve may be too narrow or stiff, and missing one or more of the flaps that allow it to open and close properly. As a result, blood can’t flow through the way it’s supposed to. This puts strain on the heart, because it has to work harder than it should to pump blood out to the body.

Aortic valve stenosis is often part of a condition known as left ventricular outflow tract obstruction (LVOTO). It can also occur as part of other heart disorders, like Shone complex or endocardio fibroelastosis (EFE). So it’s important for a team of heart specialists to evaluate the patient to understand exactly what’s going on, make the correct diagnosis, and determine the right care. Connecticut Children’s Heart Center specializes in this team approach, and uses advanced cardiac imaging for a detailed diagnosis.

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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Aortic Valve Stenosis?

Many children and adults with aortic stenosis only have mild signs or symptoms, or none at all.

More serious cases may have the following symptoms.


  • Bluish or greyish skin, lips and nails
  • Trouble feeding
  • Trouble gaining weight
  • Trouble breathing
  • Sweaty or clammy skin

Older children and adults:

  • Heart murmur
  • Chest pain
  • Short of breath
  • Tired or dizzy

At Connecticut Children’s, we can diagnose many congenital heart problems in utero before babies are even born, so we have an action plan in place for a family and baby right from delivery.

What Causes Aortic Valve Stenosis?

Aortic valve stenosis usually occurs before birth, when the aortic valve doesn’t develop properly during early pregnancy. Doctors don’t know exactly what causes it.

This condition may also develop later in life as a result of a degenerative heart disease

How is Aortic Valve Stenosis Treated?

If a case of aortic stenosis is mild, it may not need any treatment. But it’s important to check in regularly with a heart doctor to make sure it’s not getting worse.

More serious cases have a number of other treatment options.

  • Medication to treat symptoms
  • Balloon valve repair (valvuloplasty): Uses a long, thin tube (catheter) to place a balloon in the aortic valve, and inflate it to open the valve
  • Sometimes for adults, transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR): Uses a catheter to place a new aortic valve
  • Aortic valve repair (valvuloplasty): Open-heart surgery to reconstruct or reshape the aortic valve
  • Aortic valve replacement: In rare cases, open-heart surgery known as the Ross procedure, which replaces the aortic valve using the baby’s own pulmonary valve

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Most patients with a congenital heart defect, including aortic valve stenosis, need lifelong care from congenital heart experts. Connecticut Children’s Heart Center keeps patients connected to cardiologists who understand their unique anatomy, provides follow-up tests like echocardiograms at locations close to home, and continues congenital heart care in adulthood.