Heart Home > Aortic Valve Regurgitation

Aortic valve regurgitation is a condition in which the heart's aortic valve does not close properly. This allows blood to leak backward from the aorta into the left ventricle. The condition can be caused by several things, and over time may lead to symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, heart failure, and fainting. The treatment depends on how severe it is and the patient's overall health.

What Is Aortic Valve Regurgitation?

The valves of the heart are like doors that open and close. They open to allow blood to flow into the next chamber of the heart or into one of the arteries, and then they shut to keep blood from flowing backward.
The aortic valve is on the left side of the heart, between the left ventricle and the entrance to the aorta (the artery that carries blood to the body). The aortic valve opens when the left ventricle contracts, allowing blood to flow into the aorta. It then closes to prevent blood from coming back into the left ventricle.
In aortic valve regurgitation (also known as aortic incompetence or aortic insufficiency), the aortic valve does not close properly. Because of this, blood can leak back into the left ventricle instead of getting pumped to the rest of the body. The heart has to work harder to pump the extra blood, and over time, the left ventricle becomes larger as a result. As the left ventricle thickens, it becomes less effective at pumping blood through the aortic valve.

Causes of Aortic Valve Regurgitation

The most common cause of aortic valve regurgitation is rheumatic fever. The condition often occurs with mitral valve problems like mitral regurgitation, which are also associated with rheumatic fever. It can also be caused by:
  • Conditions people are born with (congenital defects)
  • Endocarditis
  • Trauma
  • Lupus
  • Other rheumatic diseases.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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