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Aortic Regurgitation

Aortic regurgitation is a disease that affects the aortic valve, one of four valves within the heart. The aortic valve is the last valve blood passes through as it exits the heart to the body.

Aortic regurgitation occurs when the aortic valve does not close properly, causing it to leak. This allows a certain percentage of blood to move backwards into the heart. The left ventricle must therefore pump more blood than usual, and gradually enlarges because of the extra workload.

The main causes are:

  • Congenital – progressive wear and tear of a bicuspid or other abnormal valve since birth
  • Infection – from rheumatic fever as a child or young adult, or bacterial endocarditis
  • Connective Tissue Disease – such as Marfan syndrome that causes the aortic root (the part attached to the ventricle) to enlarge so that it no longer closes properly

Common symptoms may include shortness of breath, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, and chest pain or palpitations with exertion.

How is aortic regurgitation treated?

Aortic valve replacement is the most effective treatment for severe aortic stenosis and aortic regurgitation. Inova Heart and Vascular Institute offers the most advanced aortic valve replacement options available, including:

  • A biological, or tissue, valve which is usually created from pig or cow tissue. These can last 15 to 20 years and blood thinning medication is not needed as a result.
  • Mechanical valves. They generally last more than 20 years. Patients who receive mechanical valves must take a blood thinning medication for the rest of their lives to prevent blood clots.
  • A homograft which is a valve removed from a donated human heart. It is sometimes used for patients with endocarditis, an infection of the heart valves.

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Our Team

Aortic Regurgitation treatment at Inova Heart and Vascular Institute involves an experienced team of medical specialists who collaborate to determine the most appropriate care for each patient.

  • Initial Diagnosis: Most often, aortic regurgitation is initially diagnosed and managed by a cardiologist.
  • Valve Repair Surgery: Cardiac surgeons perform surgery to repair or replace the aortic valve.
  • Valve Repair Experts: Inova Structural Heart Disease Program Find out about the team leading minimally invasive heart valve repair and surgery at our Structural Heart Disease Program
Meet Our Team