The aorta is the main artery carrying oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body. After each heart beat, the valve closes tightly to prevent blood from flowing backwards into the heart. Aortic insufficiency occurs when the aortic valve does not close tightly enough.
There are two types of aortic insufficiency:
Aortic Valve Insufficiency
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Aortic insufficiency can be caused by:
Sometimes the cause of aortic insufficiency is unknown.
Factors that may increase your chances of developing aortic insufficiency include:
Symptoms of aortic insufficiency include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Images may be taken of your heart. This can be done with:
Treatment options depend on the severity and history of the valve leakage. It also depends on its effects on the heart’s size and function. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
In chronic and slowly progressive aortic insufficiency, treatment may involve taking medication. Surgery is needed in severe cases.
Depending on your condition, your doctor may schedule routine physical exams and echocardiograms.
Medications cannot fix the valve, but they can be used to treat aortic insufficiency. Medication used may include:
If the condition is rapidly declining, surgery is needed.
There are several open heart surgeries that can fix leaking valves. The type chosen will depend on the valve and the knowledge of the surgeon.
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Public Health Agency of Canada
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Aortic regurgitation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 21, 2014. Accessed August 20, 2014.
Aortic valve stenosis (AS) and aortic insufficiency (AI). American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_307649.pdf. Published 2009. Accessed August 20, 2014.
Coarctation of aorta. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 5, 2014. Accessed August 20, 2014.
Congenital heart defects. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/medical/heart/congenital_heart_defects.html. Updated January 2012. Accessed August 20, 2014.
Scognamiglio R, Rahimtoola SH, Fasoli G, Nistri S, Dalla Volta S. Nifedipine in asymptomatic patients with severe aortic regurgitation and normal left ventricular function. N Engl J Med. 1994;331:689.
What are congenital heart defects? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/chd/chd_what.html. Updated July 1, 2011. Accessed August 20, 2014.
Last reviewed August 2014 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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