What is aortic valve regurgitation?
regurgitation is a problem with the aortic valve. The aortic valve allows blood to flow from the heart's lower left chamber (ventricle) into the aorta and to the body. When the heart
rests between beats, the valve closes to keep blood from flowing
backward into the heart.
When you have aortic valve
regurgitation, the aortic valve doesn't close as it should. With each heartbeat, some of the blood leaks back (regurgitates) through the aortic valve
into the left ventricle. The body does not get enough blood, so the heart has
to work harder to make up for it. See a picture of
aortic valve regurgitation .
You can have this problem for a long time and not know it. It may take years for symptoms to start. This is called chronic aortic valve regurgitation. In rare cases, the valve problem starts suddenly and without warning. This is called acute aortic valve regurgitation. It requires medical help right away.
What causes aortic valve regurgitation?
condition that damages the aortic valve can cause aortic valve regurgitation.
Common causes of chronic valve problems include:
- Being born with a damaged aortic
- Enlargement of the aorta because of high
blood pressure or hardening of the arteries.
The most common causes of sudden (acute) aortic valve regurgitation include:
What are the symptoms?
For chronic regurgitation, you may not have any symptoms at first. But over time you may have:
- Fatigue or weakness.
- Shortness of
breath, most often when you are active.
- A fast, slow, or uneven
- A feeling that your heart is pounding,
racing, or beating unevenly (palpitations).
- Chest pain or pressure
(angina), often brought on by exercise, when the heart
has to work harder.
When the valve problem is acute, these symptoms are
sudden, often more intense, and life-threatening.
How is aortic valve regurgitation diagnosed?
doctor may suspect that you have this type of valve problem after hearing a
heart murmur through a
stethoscope . He or she will ask about your symptoms
and past health and will want to know if you have any family history of heart
You will get further tests, like an
echocardiogram to confirm the
diagnosis, to show how much the valve is leaking, and to see how well the left
ventricle is working.
How is it treated?
Your treatment will depend on
what is causing your valve problem and if you have symptoms.
your aortic valve regurgitation starts suddenly and is acute, you'll need valve
replacement surgery right away.
But in most people, aortic valve
regurgitation starts slowly. Your doctor will probably recommend some lifestyle
changes to keep your heart healthy. He or she may advise you to:
- Quit smoking. And stay away from secondhand
- Follow a heart-healthy diet.
- Be active if your doctor says it's okay. Walking is a good choice.
- Stay at a healthy
Your doctor will
see you regularly to check on your heart. In some cases, doctors prescribe
medicine to lower blood pressure and delay the advance of the disease.
If symptoms appear or your heart does not pump as well, you will probably
need valve replacement surgery.