Aortic Regurgitation (Aortic Insufficiency)

Aortic regurgitation, also known as aortic valve insufficiency, is a valve condition in which the aortic valve does not close properly, allowing blood to leak back from the aorta into the ventricle.

This causes the volume load in the left ventricle to increase and the ventricle to dilate and eventually fail, causing pulmonary congestion.  

Causes of Aortic Regurgitation

Aortic regurgitation can be caused by a number of heart conditions and related diseases.

Aortic dissection
A rare, serious condition that occurs when blood breaks through the inner layer of the aorta and ends up between two layers
Idiopathic aortic root dilatation
Seen with the elderly, hypertension, and bicuspid aortic valves
Infective endocarditis
An infection on the valve causing perforation or destruction
Lupus
A chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs
Marfan syndrome
A genetic disorder of the connective tissue
Rheumatic heart disease
In patients with history of rheumatic fever, which can cause damaged heart valves and heart failure
Syphilis
A bacterial infection typically spread by sexual contact, which can severely damage the heart, brain, or other organs and be life-threatening

Aortic Regurgitation Symptoms

You may have aortic regurgitation if you have these symptoms:

  • Angina (chest pain)
  • Fainting
  • Palpitations due to arrhythmias
  • Shortness of breath during exertion, when lying flat, and/or sleeping at night (left-sided heart failure)

Diagnosis of Aortic Regurgitation

Your UT Southwestern Medical Center doctor will use several tests to determine the problem. Common diagnostic tests for aortic regurgitation include:

Physical exam
Diastolic blowing murmur on stethoscope, Corrigan’s pulse, Hill’s sign, pistol-shot femoral pulses, Duroziez’s sign, de Musset’s sign, Quincke’s pulse
Chest X-ray
To evaluate heart enlargement and aorta dilation
EKG
To look at heart rhythm
Echocardiography
To look at abnormal blood flow across the aortic valve when it’s closed
Cardiac catheterization
To evaluate the degree of insufficiency and look at coronary artery stenosis

Treatment Options for Aortic Regurgitation

Aortic valve replacement will be performed once the criteria for valve replacement are met. If surgery is not possible, then symptomatic relief with digitalis (a medication that improves blood flow), diuretics, and vasodilators will be prescribed.

Request an Appointment

For an appointment at UT Southwestern's facilities in Dallas or for more information about our aortic regurgitation and aortic insufficiency services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.