Leaky Heart Valve
Leaky Heart Valve and Aortic Regurgitation
Causes of a leaky aortic valve include:
Many people with aortic regurgitation only require observation over time.
People with symptoms due to severe aortic valve regurgitation may benefit from certain blood pressure medicines called vasodilators. Other drug treatments for congestive heart failure, such as diuretics, can be helpful in severe aortic regurgitation.
When aortic regurgitation is severe, surgery is sometimes the recommended treatment. A surgeon will usually replace or repair the leaking aortic valve.
Leaky Heart Valve and Mitral Regurgitation
Causes of a leaky mitral valve include:
Mitral valve prolapse (an improper closing of the valve)
- An enlarged heart, called cardiomyopathy, due to hypertension, coronary artery disease, or another cause
- Rheumatic heart disease
Some people with a leaky mitral valve don't require treatment. The standard approach is observation over time. Experts don't recommend daily medication for mitral regurgitation unless there is significant heart failure.
Surgery to repair or replace a mitral valve that is leaking severely can result in significant improvement for certain people. Because mitral regurgitation is slowly progressive, deciding when to operate -- neither too early, nor too late -- can be difficult.
Leaky Heart Valve and Tricuspid Regurgitation
Many healthy adults have a slightly leaky tricuspid valve. This may be discovered incidentally, usually causes no problems, and does not require treatment or follow-up.
Moderate or severe tricuspid regurgitation may result from pulmonary hypertension. Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the pulmonary artery. This high blood pressure has many possible causes. The main one is congestive heart failure.
Medicines aren’t effective in treating tricuspid regurgitation. Diuretics, or water pills, can help relieve body swelling, or edema, that’s due to congestive heart failure. The swelling is not always present, however.
The tricuspid valve may be repaired during surgery to correct other leaky heart valves. Surgical repair of the tricuspid valve generally works better than replacing it. Surgery to replace the tricuspid valve by itself (not along with the mitral or aortic valve) is only recommended in rare cases.