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Aortic Valve Stenosis Complications - Topic Overview

Aortic valve stenosis can lead to other problems with the heart. And aortic valve stenosis can happen along with other heart valve problems.

Heart failure

Heart failure is the most common and potentially the most life-threatening complication of aortic valve stenosis.

Aortic valve stenosis causes a buildup of pressure inside the heart chamber that pumps blood to the body (the left ventricle). The ventricle compensates for the pressure by thickening and pumping harder to force blood through the narrowed valve.

Your heart can work hard for a long time to compensate for the narrowed aortic valve. In fact, your heart compensates so well that you may not feel any symptoms of stenosis for many years, even decades. But eventually the valve becomes too narrow and your heart can no longer keep up. The effort of pumping so hard under pressure year after year will wear out your heart muscle prematurely.

When the heart wears out, a person starts to have symptoms like shortness of breath. Symptoms happen because the left ventricle can no longer compensate and the pressure begins to stretch (dilate) the heart muscle. Eventually the heart loses its ability to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs.

As your heart loses its ability to pump blood to your body, your heart also cannot supply enough oxygen-rich blood to its own muscle. Your heart muscle starts to suffer from lack of oxygen, and heart failure continues to progress.

If you have heart failure, you might also get atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat. Because heart failure causes the heart to stretch out of shape, it changes the electrical system of the heart. And this change can lead to atrial fibrillation.


Endocarditis is an infection of the heart's valves or its inner lining (endocardium). It is most common in people who have a damaged, diseased, or artificial heart valve.

If you have a problem with your heart that affects normal blood flow through the heart, it is more likely that bacteria or fungi will attach to heart tissue. This puts you at a higher risk for endocarditis. If you have certain heart conditions, getting endocarditis is even more dangerous for you. These heart conditions include having an artificial heart valve, having a congenital heart defect, having had endocarditis in the past, and having a heart valve problem after a heart transplant.

Mitral valve problems

The aortic and mitral valves are very close together in the heart. Problems can happen in both valves at the same time. When this happens, the heart cannot pump blood as well as it can when there are no problems in the valves.

When aortic and mitral valve problems happen together, it might be hard for your doctor to know that both valves are affected. One valve problem can "mask" another. When blood arrives from your lungs, it enters your left atrium, passes through the mitral valve into your left ventricle, and then gets pumped out through your aortic valve. Because the blood passes through the mitral valve first, the problem with your mitral valve will typically be more prominent than aortic stenosis, essentially because it is "upstream." In fact, the problem with your mitral valve may actually "mask" your aortic stenosis.


WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 02, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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