What to Know About an Aortic Stenosis Murmur

Medically Reviewed By Helen Chen MCMSc, PA-C

An aortic stenosis murmur is a sound that occurs when the heart’s aortic valve narrows, restricting blood flow. It’s higher pitched than a typical heart sound and becomes louder as the condition progresses. Doctors can detect heart murmurs with a stethoscope. Other tests, like an echocardiogram or imaging studies, may be necessary to evaluate the murmur and confirm the presence of aortic stenosis.

Healthcare professionals must address the underlying condition to manage an aortic stenosis murmur. This may include surgery to replace the affected valve.

Read on to learn more about aortic stenosis murmurs, including what causes them, what they sound like, and how doctors treat them.

What causes an aortic stenosis murmur?

A male healthcare professional listening to an older man's heart with a stethoscope
Photography by Studio Firma/Stocksy United

Aortic stenosis occurs when the heart’s aortic valve narrows and doesn’t open fully, restricting blood flow through it. This causes the blood flow’s sound to change, resulting in an audible “murmur.”

What does an aortic stenosis murmur sound like?

An aortic stenosis murmur sounds more high pitched than a typical heart sound. Additionally, doctors classify this murmur as a “crescendo-decrescendo.” This means the sound becomes more intense, peaks, then becomes less intense.

Doctors often describe a beating heart’s sound as a “lub-dub” sound that occurs due to blood flowing through the heart valves. The “lub” sound occurs when the heart contracts, a phase known as the systole. The diastole phase refers to the heart relaxing, creating the “dub” sound.

An aortic stenosis murmur is a midsystolic murmur, meaning the atypical sound occurs partway through the systole phase. As aortic stenosis progresses, the murmur will peak late into the systole phase Trusted Source AHA/ASA Journals Peer reviewed journal Go to source , becoming louder.

Learn more about the dangers of aortic stenosis.

Does an aortic stenosis murmur cause any symptoms?

The murmur itself doesn’t cause any symptoms. However, the American Heart Association Trusted Source American Heart Association Highly respected national organization Go to source notes that the underlying heart valve narrowing can cause certain symptoms if the narrowing is severe. These may include:

Learn 6 symptoms to never ignore if you have aortic stenosis.

How can doctors detect an aortic stenosis murmur?

Doctors can listen to your heart rate Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source with a stethoscope to detect an aortic stenosis murmur. This is called auscultation, during which your doctor may have you lie down, stand, or perform certain movements so they can identify different heart sounds.

They can classify heart murmurs into grades Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source , depending on their strengths or loudness.

GradeMurmur characteristics
1faint, barely audible murmur
2soft murmur
3audible murmur, but no palpable thrill, meaning your doctor won’t hear your chest wall vibrating as the blood flows through the heart valve
4audible murmur with a palpable thrill
5loud murmur that your doctor can hear with a stethoscope gently touching the chest
6very loud murmur that your doctor can hear without a stethoscope touching the chest

Additional testing, such as an echocardiogram or imaging tests Trusted Source AHA/ASA Journals Peer reviewed journal Go to source like a chest X-ray, may also be necessary.

Learn more about the outlook and life expectancy for people with aortic stenosis.

What are the treatments for an aortic stenosis murmur?

Doctors need to address the underlying condition to treat an aortic stenosis murmur. Medications typically don’t help manage or slow aortic stenosis Trusted Source AHA/ASA Journals Peer reviewed journal Go to source , so your doctor can choose from several surgical procedures to address it:

  • Surgical aortic valve replacement: This open heart surgery allows the surgeon direct access to the affected valve to replace it.
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement: This is a less invasive procedure Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source that involves making a small opening in the groin to access an artery. The surgeon will then thread a catheter through the artery to the affected valve, allowing them to place a new valve over the affected valve.
  • Balloon valvuloplasty: This involves threading a catheter through an artery to reach the affected valve. A surgeon then inflates a balloon to widen the valve. This treatment can temporarily improve the condition Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source before a person undergoes valve replacement surgery.

Your doctor will decide on a procedure based on factors like age, overall health, and severity of the condition.

Learn more about aortic stenosis treatments.

Summary

An aortic stenosis murmur is an atypical heart sound that develops when the heart’s aortic valve narrows. Your doctor can detect and analyze it with certain tests, including auscultation and echocardiography.

The underlying aortic stenosis needs treatment to manage the murmur. This may involve a surgical procedure to widen or replace the valve.

Talk with your doctor about treatments for aortic stenosis that can address the murmur.

Was this helpful?
1

Medical Reviewer: Helen Chen MCMSc, PA-C
Last Review Date: 2023 Jun 22
See All Aortic Valve Replacement Content
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.