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, allowing a certain percentage of blood to move back into the heart. Therefore, the left ventricle must 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 Schar Heart and Vascular 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, eliminating the need for blood-thinning medication.
  • Mechanical valves that can 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, or valve removed from a donated human heart that is sometimes used for patients with endocarditis, an infection of the heart valve.

Our Team

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

Cardiologists typically diagnose and manage aortic regurgitation, interventional cardiologists perform minimally invasive valve repair procedures, and cardiac surgeons perform surgical valve repair or replacement.