What causes aortic valve regurgitation?
Bacterial or fungal infections of the valve may cause perforations (holes) in the cusps. Holes in valve leaflets most often cause acute valve regurgitation. Aortic dissection, caused by bleeding into the wall of the aorta, can expand the aortic valve
and cause it to leak. A chest injury can also cause the aortic valve to leak.
Chronic valve regurgitation is most often caused when the aorta near the valve slowly expands. The most common cause is high blood pressure. Other causes include Marfan syndrome, some rheumatoid diseases, rheumatic fever, and abnormalities of the valve that you were born with.
Common causes include being born with a defective aortic valve, wear and tear from aging, infection of the lining of the heart (endocarditis), and rheumatic fever. Enlargement of the aorta, associated with high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), can also cause aortic valve regurgitation. On rare occasions, radiation treatments to the chest can damage the aortic valve.
Endocarditis is the most common cause of aortic valve regurgitation that develops suddenly. Mild endocarditis does not usually cause sudden (acute) aortic valve regurgitation but may result in longstanding aortic valve regurgitation. Other conditions that cause acute regurgitation include trauma to the heart valve or aorta and aortic dissection, the separation of the inner layer of the aorta from the middle layer.
Rheumatic fever is a condition which sometimes follows an infection with a bacterium called the streptococcus. You body makes antibodies to the bacterium to clear the infection. But in some people the antibodies also 'attack' various parts of the body, in particular the heart valves. Inflammation of a valve may develop which can cause permanent damage and lead to thickening and scarring years later. This may prevent the valve from closing properly.
If the root of the aorta becomes abnormally wide, the cusps of the valve cannot meet and the valve becomes leaky. The tissue at the base of the aorta can be affected by various conditions such as: Marfan's syndrome, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis, Reiter's syndrome, relapsing polychondritis, syphilis.
Rarer conditions that cause aortic valve regurgitation include a disorder of the body's connective tissues (Marfan's syndrome), a type of arthritis (ankylosing spondylitis), some autoimmune diseases, and syphilis.