Birth Defects Heart Pulmonary Aortic Stenosis

Pulmonary and aortic stenosis are congenital heart defects, meaning they stem from a malformation in the heart that is present from birth. “Stenosis” is a term that describes an abnormal narrowing of a vessel. In the heart, the pulmonic or aortic valve can be narrowed in conditions known as pulmonary valve stenosis and aortic valve stenosis, respectively.

The condition may not be noted at birth, and diagnosed later when an individual shows pulmonary or aortic stenosis symptoms, such as shortness of breath or chest pain. However, some people show no signs or symptoms of pulmonary and aortic stenosis, and can be diagnosed when a doctor hears a heart murmur during a routine checkup.

Aortic Valve Stenosis

The aorta is the main artery responsible for transporting oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body. From the aorta, blood is pumped into a series of smaller vessels throughout the body.

In people with aortic valve stenosis, the valve between the left ventricle and the aorta is narrowed, creating a smaller space through which blood can pass into the aorta. This narrowing means that the heart needs additional pressure to pump blood out of the heart and into the aorta.

This extra work for the heart (specifically the left ventricle) may cause heart muscle damage, among other aortic stenosis symptoms, if the condition isn’t treated properly.

Pulmonary Valve Stenosis

The pulmonary valve is the connection between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery (which is responsible for carrying deoxygenated blood to the lungs). When stenosis affects the pulmonary valve, the valve is narrowed, requiring the right ventricle to pump harder to force blood through the small opening.

Much as in aortic valve stenosis, heart valve narrowing of the pulmonary valve and constant overworking of the heart muscle can be damaging if left untreated.

Pulmonary and Aortic Stenosis Treatment

Treatment for pulmonary and aortic stenosis depends on the severity of the narrowing of the valve. Mild cases may require no treatment, while in more severe cases, a doctor may need to repair or replace the valves to allow more blood to travel through, which may help to prevent heart muscle damage.

In some cases, a procedure called “balloon valvuloplasty” may be able to treat pulmonary and aortic valve stenosis. This is a minimally invasive procedure that can be completed during cardiac catheterization. A small tube is inserted into a smaller vein in the leg, and then threaded up to the heart. A small balloon is inflated when the catheter is threaded through the affected valve, which can stretch the valve.

In more severe cases, surgery may be required to repair the faulty valve, or replace it with an artificial valve.

Resources

American Heart Association. (n.d.). Pulmonary valve stenosis and regurgitation.Retrieved April 11, 2010, from: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=11070.

Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Aortic valve stenosis.Retrieved April 11, 2010, from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/aortic-valve-stenosis/DS00418 .

Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Pulmonary valve stenosis.Retrieved April 11, 2010, from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pulmonary-valve-stenosis/DS00610.

Medline Plus. (n.d.). Aortic stenosis.Retrieved April 11, 2010, from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000178.htm.