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What is aortic valve stenosis?

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Quick Answer

Aortic valve stenosis is a narrowing of the aortic valve, which reduces the amount of blood that can flow into the aorta, as Mayo Clinic explains. Because the valve is more narrow, the heart has to pump harder to push the same amount of blood, which may eventually weaken it.

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Full Answer

Aortic valve stenosis, or aortic stenosis, may develop due to a buildup of calcium or scar tissue on the aortic valve, or it may arise due to a congenital deformity of the valve, according to Mayo Clinic. Calcium builds up as part of normal functioning because it is in the bloodstream and regularly passes over the valve. In most individuals, this has no effect, but some individuals may have congenital conditions that cause the valve to stiffen as calcium accumulates on it. Scar tissue formation is typically due to rheumatic fever, which itself is caused by strep throat infection. A scar tissue buildup narrows the valve and creates an uneven surface that may catch more calcium, which further increases the risk of aortic stenosis.

Congenital valve deformities involve the presence of a greater or lower amount of tissue flaps than usual in the valve, as Mayo Clinic explains. The valve normally has three flaps of tissue that fit closely together, but some individuals are born with one, two or four flaps. This typically presents no symptoms before adulthood, when a procedure to alter or replace the valve may be necessary.

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