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Aortic Stenosis—Child

(Stenosis, Aortic—Child; AS—Child)


Aortic stenosis (AS) is a narrowing of the aortic valve opening. This valve controls the flow of blood from the heart to a large artery called the aorta. This artery carries blood from the heart to the rest of body.

AS makes it difficult for blood to flow out of the heart. It can decrease the amount of blood that goes to the body and cause a back-up of blood into the heart. This back-up can increase pressure in the heart and lungs. AS can range from mild to severe.

Heart Chambers and Valves

heart anatomy
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes    TOP

The aortic valve is normally made up of 3 cusps that open and close together. In babies, AS is caused by a birth defect of the aortic valve that may result in:

  • 1 cusp that can not open as fully as 3 cusps
  • 2 cusps that are damaged
  • Cusps that are partly closed or do not open correctly due to thickness

The aortic valve can also be damaged by infection or injury to the valve.

Risk Factors    TOP

Factors that may increase your child's chance of AS include:

Symptoms    TOP

Mild AS may not cause any symptoms. More severe AS may cause:

  • Extreme fatigue after exercise or exertion
  • Fainting with exercise or exertion
  • Pain, squeezing, pressure, or tightness of the chest, usually occurring with exertion
  • Palpitations—sensation of rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness with exertion

In rare cases, AS can cause:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms—arrhythmia
  • Sudden death with no previous symptoms

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may be alerted of AS by the following:

  • Abnormal chest sounds, such as a heart murmur or click
  • Noticeable chest heave or vibration when the doctor's hand is held over your child’s heart

Imaging tests can help to evaluate the heart and surrounding structures. This can be done with:

Treatment    TOP

Mild AS will be monitored for any changes or complication. Treatment may not be needed right away.

Treatment options for moderate to severe AS may include:

Lifestyle Changes

If your child has moderate to severe AS, your child may need to avoid strenuous physical activity. This often includes avoiding competitive sports.


If necessary, your child may be given medication to reduce stress on the heart and help prevent heart failure.

Surgery    TOP

Severe AS may require surgery. Procedures include:

  • Balloon valvuloplasty—A balloon device is passed through the arteries to open or enlarge the aortic valve. Since the valve can become blocked again, surgery may need to be repeated.
  • Aortic valve replacement—Replacement of a defective heart valve.

Prevention    TOP

There are no current guidelines to prevent congenital AS.


American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery


Aortic stenosis in children. Boston Children's Hospital website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed June 6, 2016.
Aortic (valve) stenois in infants and children. Cincinnati Children’s website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed June 6, 2016.
Aortic stenosis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated August 19, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2016.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Karri Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 1/30/2018

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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