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Aortic valve stenosis is a cardiovascular disease that occurs when the aortic valve narrows, reducing blood flow from the heart's lower left chamber through the aortic valve to the rest of the body. This makes the heart work harder to pump blood around the body.
A healthy aortic heart valve allows oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to flow from the left ventricle of the heart to the aorta, where it then flows to the brain and the rest of the body. Severe aortic stenosis causes narrowing or obstruction of the aortic valve and is most often due to accumulations of calcium deposits on the valve's leaflets (flaps of tissue that open and close to regulate the flow of blood in one direction through the valve).
Aortic valve stenosis develops when calcium is deposited on the valve that connects the ventricles to the aorta, reducing the valves' ability to open fully. While your heart can compensate for aortic valve stenosis for a long time, eventually the extra work of pumping blood through a narrow valve will lead to reduced blood flow to the body and then to heart failure.
Aortic valve stenosis occurs more often in men than in women, and is most common in people over 65 years old. This disease is often the result of rheumatic fever. Like other heart diseases, it is most often seen in smokers and people with type 2 diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol.
Up to 1.5 million people in the U.S. suffer from aortic stenosis, and one-third suffer from severe aortic stenosis.