Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Does narrowing of the aortic valve get better on its own?

Ask the doctor

Does narrowing of the aortic valve get better on its own?

Q. Does mild aortic stenosis (causing a mild heart murmur) ever correct itself without medication or surgery?

A. Aortic stenosis refers to a narrowing of the aortic valve. This valve acts like a one-way gate between the heart's main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, and the aorta, the main pipeline through which oxygenated blood is distributed to the body. In some people, calcium accumulates in the valve, gradually thickening and stiffening the leaflets, the working part of the valve. This narrows the opening through which blood can pass. A murmur indicates turbulent blood flow from the force needed to push blood through the narrowed aortic valve or from blood flowing backward through a valve that can't close completely.

Aortic stenosis can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, chest pain, dizziness, and breathlessness.

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