The heart has four main valves that control blood flow to and from the heart, and the aortic valve is one of them. Each of these valves have flaps that open and close as your heart beats, but sometimes these flaps or leaflets can function improperly.

Aortic valve regurgitation is a condition that occurs when the heart’s aortic valve doesn’t close as tightly as it should. Whenever the aortic valve doesn’t close properly, blood leaks backward into the left ventricle, which is one of the chambers of your heart. That causes the heart to work overtime to compensate for the blood that has leaked into the left ventricle. As a result, you may feel short of breath or fatigued, and this condition could even lead to more serious problems like heart failure or an irregular heartbeat.

Causes of Aortic Valve Regurgitation

There are several different causes of aortic valve regurgitation:

  • Rheumatic fever – This is an inflammatory disease that can occur when strep throat or scarlet fever isn’t taken care of properly. This disease can cause a wide range of conditions that include aortic valve regurgitation.
  • Infections – This is when inflammation of the inner lining of the heart’s chamber occurs. This infection can damage the aortic valve and cause aortic valve regurgitation.
  • Uncontrolled Hypertension

Symptoms of Aortic Valve Regurgitation

Aortic valve regurgitation can usually be discovered during a physical examination, but your physician or cardiologist will likely order an echocardiogram to confirm it as well a determine the severity and possible cause. Sometimes symptoms can take years to develop, but as aortic valve regurgitation worsens you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness
  • Swollen ankles and feet
  • Extreme fatigue

Treatment for Aortic Valve Regurgitation

Your heart is in good hands at Georgia Heart Institute. Our team of specialized heart doctors work together to determine the appropriate treatment for your condition. Treatment can vary depending on the severity of your symptoms and condition.

At Georgia Heart Institute, we take the time to develop the best treatment plan for you.

  • Lifestyle changes and medication – In some cases, aortic valve regurgitation can be treated with a shift towards healthier lifestyle choices. If you are diagnosed with aortic valve regurgitation, getting proper exercise and avoiding foods high in salt, saturated fats and sugar is advisable. Medication may be used to help support heart health too.
  • Heart valve surgery Our cardiovascular surgeons are national leaders in minimally invasive valve repair surgeries. Georgia Heart Institute offers both open and robotic surgery options for aortic valve repair. If surgery is not feasible, a transcatheter approach may be considered by our multidisciplinary team of heart surgeons and interventional cardiologists.

Why Choose Georgia Heart Institute?

At Georgia Heart Institute, our culture of continuous improvement helps our patients overcome even the most advanced and complex conditions. We work together to coordinate the right treatment and therapy for your individual circumstance. Regardless of where you are in your heart care journey, the Georgia Heart Institute offers the care, services, and expertise you need for a healthier tomorrow.

Learn more about our Structural Heart Center and the specialized therapies we offer for patients with valve disease.