Aortic Regurgitation

Aortic regurgitation, also known as aortic insufficiency, occurs when the aortic valve does not close tightly, causing blood to leak back into the left ventricle of the heart. The aortic valve connects the heart to the aorta and helps blood flow through the body. The abnormal functioning of the valve can occur suddenly or gradually, leading to heart palpitations, endocarditis or heart failure.

Causes of Aortic Regurgitation

Damage to the aortic valve may be caused by a number of different factors, such as:

  • Congenital heart defect
  • Deterioration
  • Aortic dissection
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Syphillis
  • Endocarditis
  • Rheumatic fever
  • High blood pressure

Symptoms of Aortic Regurgitation

The different causes of aortic regurgitation can lead to different symptoms, or no symptoms at all. People who develop aortic regurgitation may experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Swelling of the feet or ankles
  • Congestion in the lungs
  • Chest pain

Diagnosis of Aortic Regurgitation

Aortic regurgitation is often diagnosed during routine exams if a heart murmur is detected. To confirm diagnosis, the following tests may be performed:

  • Angiogram
  • Echocardiogram
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • MRI
  • Chest X-ray

Treatment of Aortic Regurgitation

Treatment of aortic regurgitation depends on the severity of the condition. Patients that do not experience any symptoms may only need to monitor their condition through regular examinations. Once symptoms appear, surgery is usually required for the treatment of aortic regurgitation. Surgery is used to repair or replace the aortic valve and is usually performed as an open heart procedure. Most people experience successful results from surgery.

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