What is aortic valve regurgitation?
The aortic valve lies between the main pumping chamber of the heart (left ventricle) and the aorta, the big blood vessel that carries blood to all the tissues of the body. The aortic valve has 3 flexible leaflets called cusps. The valve's purpose is to prevent the backflow (regurgitation) of blood pumped from the heart. Aortic valve regurgitation develops when the aortic valve does not function correctly. To understand this condition, it's helpful to know how the aortic valve normally functions. 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. From the aorta, oxygen-rich blood flows into the branching arteries and through the body to feed the cells. When the heart rests between beats, the aortic valve closes to keep blood from flowing backward into the heart.
In 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 (compensation).
Typically, symptoms do not develop for decades because the heart compensates by enlarging so that it can pump out more blood. However, if not corrected, regurgitation usually worsens over time, and symptoms such as shortness of breath and fatigue develop. At this point, an aortic valve replacement is typically needed to prevent abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias), heart failure, and irreversible damage to the heart muscle.
Valve regurgitation occurs when the valve leaflets fail to close properly during the heart's relaxation phase. This allows blood from the aorta to leak back into the left ventricle. The heart then needs to repump the regurgitated blood into the aorta with the next heartbeat. Over time, this extra workload on the left ventricle can cause the heart to enlarge and may lead to heart failure.
There are 2 types of aortic valve regurgitation: acute and chronic. The acute type is a sudden event that may lead to death in a few hours. The chronic type progresses slowly but steadily until it begins to cause symptoms. In rare cases, aortic valve regurgitation comes on suddenly and requires immediate medical attention.
More information on aortic valve regurgitation and other aortic valve diseases
What's aortic valve regurgitation? - Aortic valve regurgitation develops hen the valve leaflets fail to close properly during the heart's relaxation phase.
What causes aortic valve regurgitation? - Causes of aortic valve regurgitation include being born with a defective aortic valve, wear and tear from aging, infection of the lining of the heart.
What're the symptoms of aortic regurgitation? - Symptoms of aortic regurgitation include chest pain, excessive sweating, palpitations, shortness of breath that worsens with exertion or lying down.
How is aortic valve regurgitation diagnosed? - A doctor diagnoses aortic valve regurgitation by hearing a heart murmur or other abnormal noises when listening with a stethoscope.
What're the treatments for aortic regurgitation? - Medicines to improve the pumping action of the heart may be given to reduce the severity of the regurgitation. Valve replacement surgery is usually recommended.
What is an aortic aneurysm? - An aortic aneurysm is a localized dilatation or aneurysm of the aorta, usually representing an underlying weakness in the wall of the aorta at that location.
What causes an aortic aneurysm? - Most aortic aneurysms occur in the abdominal aorta, the main cause being arteriosclerosis. There is a familial tendency to aortic aneurysms.
What're the symptoms of aortic aneurysm? - Most intact aortic aneurysms do not produce any symptoms. The ballooning of the aneurysm does not cause any symptoms unless it becomes large enough.
What're the complications of aortic aneurysm? - Half of all persons with untreated abdominal aortic aneurysms die of rupture within 5 years. Spontaneous blockage of the aorta can also occur.
How is aortic aneurysm diagnosed? - Aortic aneurysms can be diagnosed from their symptoms. An ultrasound scan is the easiest way to detect an aortic aneurysm.
What's the treatment for aortic aneurysms? - Medical therapy of aortic aneurysms involves strict blood pressure control. Symptomatic aneurysms require surgical treatment to prevent complications.
What's an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA)? - An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a bulge in the aorta in abdomen. Most AAAs occur in association with advanced atherosclerosis.
What're the symptoms of abdominal aortic aneurysm? - Symptoms of abdominal aortic aneurysm include a pulsing sensation in the abdomen, and pain ranging from mild to severe.
How is abdominal aortic aneurysm diagnosed? - Because abdominal aortic aneurysms may not cause any symptoms at the beginning, they are diagnosed by chance during a physical examination.
What's the treatment for abdominal aortic aneurysm? - Treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysm depends upon the size of the aneurysm. Surgical treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysm is often preformed.
What is aortic valve disease? - An aortic valve disorder usually does not cause any symptoms in its early stages. Infection on an abnormal aortic valve leads to a disease called infective endocarditis.
What is aortic insufficiency? - Aortic insufficiency is the leaking of the aortic valve of the heart that causes blood to flow in the reverse direction during ventricular diastole.
What is aortic stenosis? - Aortic valve stenosis is a heart condition caused by narrowing of the aortic valve. Aortic stenosis is the inability of the aortic valve to open completely.
What causes aortic stenosis? - Congenital aortic stenosis is caused by improper development of the aortic valve in the first 8 weeks of fetal growth. Age related calcification of the valve is the most common cause.
What're the symptoms of aortic stenosis? - Symptoms of aortic stenosis include shortness of breath (dyspnea), passing out (syncope), and chest pain (angina pectoris).
How is aortic stenosis diagnosed? - Aortic stenosis is often diagnosed due to the presence of a heart murmur. The gold standard for diagnosis is an echocardiogram.
What's the treatment for aortic stenosis? - Patients with mild aortic stenosis do not require treatment. Valve replacement surgery is indicated for patients with severe aortic stenosis.
Aortic valve replacement surgery - Aortic valve replacement surgery is an open heart procedure for treatment of narrowing (stenosis) or leakage (regurgitation) of the aortic valve.