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Aortic Stenosis—Child
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Aortic Stenosis—Child

(Stenosis, Aortic—Child; AS—Child)

En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition

The aortic valve is located between the left ventricle of the heart and the aorta (the largest artery in the body). Aortic stenosis (AS) is a narrowing of the aortic valve. This narrowing could obstruct or block blood flow from the heart. It could also cause a back-up of flow (and pressure) in the heart and to the lungs. AS can range from mild to severe. In children, it is most often a congenital disorder. This means that the child is born with the condition. It may be due to genetic problems, environment, or chance.

Heart Chambers and Valves

heart anatomy

© 2011 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

In babies, AS is caused by a birth defect of the aortic valve that may result in:

  • One cusp instead of three—When the heart valve is closed, the cusp seals the area.
  • Two cusps that are damaged
  • Cusps that are partly closed or do not open correctly due to thickness

Damage to the aortic valve can also be caused by certain conditions, like these infections:

Risk Factors

These factors increase your child's chance of developing AS:

  • Family members with congenital heart disease that affects valves
  • History of rheumatic fever or bacterial endocarditis

Tell the doctor if your child has any of these risk factors.

Symptoms

If your child has AS, he may not have any symptoms. As your child ages, he may develop symptoms, such as:

  • Extreme fatigue after exercise or exertion
  • Fainting with exercise or exertion
  • Pain, squeezing, pressure, or tightness of the chest, usually occurring with exertion
  • Sensation of rapid or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness with exertion

In rare cases, AS can cause:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms ( arrhythmia )
  • Sudden death with no previous symptoms

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask 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

To confirm the diagnosis, tests may include:

  • Chest x-ray —a test that uses radiation to take pictures of structures inside the chest
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG)—a test that records the heart's activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle; may show signs of heart strain or enlargement
  • Echocardiogram —a test that uses sound waves (ultrasound) to examine the size, shape, and motion of the heart
  • Exercise stress test —the recording of the heart during exercise
  • Cardiac catheterization (rarely done)—an x-ray of the heart's circulation that is done after injection of contrast dye

Treatment

If your child has mild AS, his condition will be monitored. He may not need treatment right away.

Lifestyle Changes

If your child has moderate to severe AS, the doctor may advise him to avoid strenuous physical activity. For example, your child will not be able to play competitive sports.

Medicines

If necessary, your child may be given medicines to help prevent heart failure . In certain cases, your child may need to take antibiotics before dental appointments or surgical procedures. This is to prevent an infection that could affect his heart.

Surgery

Severe AS may require surgery. Options include:

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

Prevention

Congenital AS cannot be prevented.

RESOURCES:

American Heart Association
http://www.americanheart.org/

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Cardiovascular Society
http://www.ccs.ca/home/index_e.aspx/

Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery
http://www.canadianvascular.ca/

References:

American Dental Association. Antibiotic prophylaxis. American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.ada.org/2157.aspx . Accessed August 30, 2010.

American Heart Association. New guidelines regarding antibiotics to prevent infective endocarditis. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3047051 . Accessed August 30, 2010.

Badash M. Aortic stenosis. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=15topicID=81 . Updated December 17, 2009. Accessed June 29, 2010.

Children’s Hospital Boston. Aortic stenosis. Children’s Hospital Boston website. Available at: http://www.childrenshospital.org/az/Site481/mainpageS481P0.html . Accessed June 29, 2010.

Cincinnati Children’s. Aortic stenois. Cincinnati Children’s website. Available at: http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/heart-encyclopedia/anomalies/avs.htm . Updated July 2009. Accessed June 29, 2010.

DynaMed Editorial Team. Aortic stenosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated June 2010. Accessed June 29, 2010.



Last reviewed June 2011 by Kari Kassir, MD


Last updated Updated: 6/6/2011

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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