Aortic valve regurgitation - aortic regurgitation - aortic insufficiency or aortic incompetence
Treatment of aortic regurgitation depends on the degree of the regurgitation, your signs and symptoms, and whether the regurgitation is affecting your heart function.
If you have aortic regurgitation, your doctor will evaluate your heart with regular echocardiograms to determine whether damage to your heart is accelerating.
Observation isn't the same as ignoring the condition. Actively observing the stability or the progression of the condition is important so that you can receive the right treatment at the right time.
If you have aortic regurgitation, your doctor may recommend that you take antibiotics before certain dental or medical procedures to prevent the heart infection endocarditis.
The overall function of your heart and the amount of regurgitation help to determine when surgery is necessary. Surgical procedures include:
Aortic valve surgery usually involves open-heart surgery performed with general anesthesia. Your heart is exposed and connected to a heart-lung machine that assumes your breathing and blood circulation during the procedure. Your surgeon then repairs or replaces your leaky aortic valve. After the operation, which lasts several hours, you spend one or more days in an intensive care unit, where your heart function and general recovery are closely monitored.
Aortic regurgitation can be eliminated with surgery, and you can resume normal activities soon after. The prognosis following surgery is generally very good.
Aortic regurgitation largely cannot be prevented.
One possible way to prevent aortic regurgitation is to prevent rheumatic fever. You can do this by making sure you see your doctor when you have a sore throat. Untreated strep throat can develop into rheumatic fever. Fortunately, strep throat is easily treated with antibiotics. Avoiding infections of the blood, including those caused by intravenous drug use, can prevent damage to the aortic valve that leads to aortic regurgitation. In addition, taking good care of your teeth helps prevent bloodstream infections that can damage your heart valves.
You may be able to prevent aortic regurgitation from worsening by taking good care of your heart and cardiovascular system. Controlling your blood pressure is also important because high blood pressure can lead to aortic valve damage and aortic regurgitation.
To maximize your quality of life if you have aortic regurgitation, your physician may — in addition to other treatments — recommend that you:
If you're a woman of childbearing age with aortic regurgitation, discuss pregnancy and family planning with your doctor because your heart works harder during pregnancy. How a heart with aortic regurgitation tolerates this extra work depends on the degree of leakage and how well your heart pumps. Should you become pregnant, you'll need evaluation by your cardiologist and obstetrician throughout your pregnancy, labor and delivery, and after delivery.