Identifying, Diagnosing, and Treating Aortic Valve Regurgitation

What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of aortic valve regurgitation depend on how severely and quickly the condition develops. Most often, it is mild and develops slowly. Since symptoms may not appear for many years, some people are completely unaware that they have aortic valve regurgitation.
If symptoms do occur, they can include:
  • Shortness of breath, especially with exercise
  • Chest pain
  • Heart failure
  • Fainting.

Diagnosing Aortic Valve Regurgitation

Doctors diagnose aortic valve regurgitation based on the patient's symptoms, a physical exam, and certain tests and procedures. The tests to make a diagnosis can include:

Treatment Options

The treatment recommended for aortic valve regurgitation will depend on:
  • The severity of the condition
  • How quickly it has progressed
  • The patient's general health.
People with mild aortic valve regurgitation may not need any immediate treatment. The doctor may simply recommend regular checkups and certain tests (electrocardiograms, echocardiograms, and stress tests) to monitor the progression of the condition. However, preventative antibiotics should be used for any surgeries, including dental procedures.
For more severe cases, the doctor may recommend medical treatment. Medical treatment does not cure the aortic valve regurgitation, but it can help relieve symptoms. Such treatment can involve:
  • Medications
  • Activity limitations
  • Lifestyle changes (such as limiting the amount of salt in your diet).
Surgery to repair or replace the aortic valve may be recommended for a person who is severely limited by symptoms of aortic valve regurgitation, despite being on medication. Surgery may also be recommended in cases where the condition is progressing rapidly.
Surgery to repair the aortic valve usually eliminates the regurgitation or reduces it enough to make the symptoms tolerable and prevent damage to the heart. Surgery to replace the aortic valve (called aortic valve replacement surgery) eliminates the regurgitation entirely.
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