Aortic Regurgitation or Aortic Insufficiency

Chest | Cardiology | Aortic Regurgitation or Aortic Insufficiency (Disease)


Aortic insufficiency is also known as aortic regurgitation. This condition represents a leaking of the aortic valve of the heart that causes blood to flow in the reverse direction during ventricular diastole, from the aorta into the left ventricle.

Symptoms of aortic insufficiency are similar to those of heart failure and include dyspnea on exertion, orthopnea and paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea. Palpitations and angina pectoris may also be felt. Also can include: fainting, fatigue, excessive tiredness, irregular, rapid, racing, pounding, or fluttering pulse. In acute cases there may be cyanosis and circulatory shock. Aortic insufficiency commonly shows no symptoms for many years. Symptoms may then occur gradually or suddenly.

Causes and Risk factors

Aortic insufficiency can result from any condition that weakens the aortic valve. In the past, rheumatic fever was the primary cause of aortic insufficiency. Now that antibiotics are used to treat rheumatic fever, other causes are more commonly seen. Causes of aortic insufficiency may include: Ankylosing spondylitis; Aortic dissection; congenital (present at birth) valve problems; Endocarditis; high blood pressure; Marfan syndrome; Reiter syndrome; Syphilis; Systemic lupus erythematosus.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Aortic insufficiency may be seen on: Aortic angiography, Doppler ultrasound, Echocardiogram - ultrasound examination of the heart, Left heart catheterization, transesophageal echocardiogram. An ECG or chest X-ray may show swelling of the left lower heart chamber. If there are no symptoms or if symptoms are mild, you may only need to get an echocardiogram from time to time and be monitored by a health care provider.

If the blood pressure is high, then treatment with certain blood pressure medications may help slow the worsening of aortic regurgitation. Surgery to repair the aorta may be required if the condition is caused by disorders of the aorta. ...

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