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Aortic Valve Stenosis - Exams and Tests

Physical exam

A physical exam and review of your medical history are important first steps in diagnosing aortic valve stenosis. If you have stenosis but no symptoms, your doctor will likely find the condition during a routine exam or a checkup for another health problem. A distinctive heart murmur is usually the first clue that leads a doctor to suspect aortic valve stenosis.

During the physical exam, the doctor will:

  • Take your blood pressure. Low blood pressure may mean that not enough blood is getting through the narrowed aortic valve.
  • Check your pulse. A weak pulse may mean that there is narrowing of the heart valve.
  • Listen to your heart and lungs for abnormal sounds. A soft whooshing or humming sound (murmur) heard through a stethoscope is an important finding that often points to heart valve disease. Abnormal sounds in the lungs can mean fluid buildup in the lungs that is caused by heart valve disease.
  • Look at your legs and feet. Swelling in the legs and feet may be a sign of heart failure.


An echocardiogram (echo) can confirm your symptoms and tell your doctor how severe stenosis is, how well your left ventricle is working, and whether there are problems with other valves.

It's also an important test to help monitor aortic valve stenosis over time.

Recommended frequency for checking aortic valve stenosis1
Severity of aortic valve stenosis How often you should have an echocardiogram


Every 3 to 5 years


Every 1 to 2 years


Every 6 to 12 months

Other tests for aortic valve stenosis

  • Stress echocardiogram. This test can show how severe your aortic valve stenosis is.
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG). This test may show abnormalities in heart rhythm or lower left heart chamber (ventricle) thickness.
  • Exercise electrocardiogram. This test may be done to see how the heart responds to exercise.
  • Chest X-ray. It may show calcium buildup in the valve, an enlarged left ventricle, or fluid buildup if you have developed heart failure. In some cases, the aorta may be enlarged just beyond the aortic valve.
  • Brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) test. This test may help show how well your heart is working and if you have heart failure.
  • Cardiac catheterization. This test may be done to check the valve or check blood pressure in the heart chambers.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: August 08, 2014
    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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