Aortic Valve Stenosis | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of aortic valve stenosis?

Many children with aortic valve stenosis show no outward symptoms when they are in the mild to moderate stages of the condition. Usually, the only identifiable symptom in these cases is a pronounced heart murmur.

As aortic valve stenosis progresses, children may experience:

  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing with exercise
  • irregular heartbeat or heart palpitations
  • chest pain
  • dizziness during or immediately after physical activity
  • fatigue
  • less ability to exercise
  • fainting

You should seek treatment from a qualified medical professional right away if you notice any of these warning signs in your child.

What causes aortic valve stenosis?

Aortic valve stenosis is normally caused by a birth defect, such as:

  • a narrowed aortic valve
  • a condition called a bicuspid aortic valve, meaning that the child is born with an aortic valve that has only two leaflets instead of the usual three
  • valve leaflets that are fused together
  • valve leaflets that are unusually thick and do not open all the way

Aortic valve stenosis can also be caused by rheumatic fever, a complicated and rare disease that can develop in children who have an infection of streptococcus bacteria, like strep throat or scarlet fever.

Rheumatic fever can lead to scarring of the tissue in the aortic valve, causing the valve to become constricted and narrowed. This scarring can also increase the likelihood of calcium deposits building up along the valve — a major risk factor for aortic valve stenosis in adulthood.