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
- 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
- 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)
- 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
- To look at heart rhythm
- 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.