Usually this is a consequence of age and “wear and tear” but can be due to abnormal valve structure (see bicuspid aortic valve), valve infections or rheumatic heart disease.
This condition can cause strain on the heart due to restricting blood flow to the heart and other organs (think putting your finger over the end of a hose).
Usually this condition progresses slowly over the course of years.
Initially patients are asymptomatic. When the valve becomes more significantly narrowed, the most common symptoms are:
Shortness of breath with exertion
Passing out (syncope)
Listening with a stethoscope (auscultation by a physician)
Echocardiogram (cardiac ultrasound)
No particular medical treatment has been shown to slow progression of the process although blood pressure control may improve valve function.
Ultimately, patients may need valve replacement.
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