Aortic Valve Regurgitation
Aortic valve regurgitation develops when the aortic valve does not close correctly. Normally, the aortic valve works like a one-way gate opening so that blood from the left ventricle (the heart's main pump) can be pushed into the aorta, the large artery leaving the heart. When the heart rests between beats, the aortic valve closes to keep blood from flowing backward into the heart.
During aortic valve regurgitation, the aortic valve does not close properly. With each heartbeat, some of the blood pumped into the aorta leaks back (regurgitates) through the faulty valve into the left ventricle. The body doesn't receive enough blood, so the heart must work harder to make up for it.
Symptoms of Aortic Valve Regurgitation
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Swelling of lower extremities
Causes of Aortic Valve Regurgitation
- Infection such as endocarditis or rheumatic fever
- Deterioration of the valve due to aging
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis)
Diagnosis and Treatment
To diagnose aortic valve regurgitation, an electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is usually done. An echocardiogram is then done to confirm the diagnosis and determine how much the valve is leaking.
Treatment for aortic valve regurgitation is heart valve surgery, either valve repair or valve replacement.