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How will my aortic regurgitation (AR) be treated?

Aortic regurgitation occurs when the flaps (leaflets) of the aortic valve do not close properly, allowing blood to leak backward into the left ventricle, one of the heart’s chambers. Over time, a leaking aortic valve decreases the amount of blood flow through a vessel called the aorta to the body, and increases the work of the heart because it has to work harder to get blood moving forward through to the heart to the rest of the body. In addition, the aorta may become enlarged in patients with aortic regurgitation, which prevents the aortic valve leaflets from closing properly. Severe aortic regurgitation over time can lead to serious heart complications, particularly failure of the left ventricle, which prevents the heart from pumping blood properly to the body

Depending on the severity of your aortic regurgitation, your cardiologist may recommend the following treatments:

 

  • Medications. No medications have been proven to help the flaps of the aortic valve close properly. However, your doctor may recommend medications to help reduce the symptoms of aortic regurgitation. If you are diagnosed with mild (grade 1) or moderate (grade 2) aortic regurgitation, your doctor may decide the best approach is to continue monitoring your condition and prescribe medications to help treat its symptoms. These medications may include diuretics (also known as water pills), blood pressure medicines and antibiotics to prevent infections of the diseased heart valve. 
  • Surgical treatments. If you are diagnosed with moderate to severe (grade 3) or severe (grade 4) aortic regurgitation, your doctor may recommend a surgical treatment. Depending on your condition, your doctor may recommend valve repair or replacement. When possible, valve repair is preferred over replacement. Repair typically consists of leaflet reconstruction - a process by which the surgeon “remodels” the valves leaflets so they open and close properly - or aorta reconstruction. During valve replacement, a prosthetic mechanical or tissue (human, cow or pig) valve is inserted in place of the old one.

Treatment of aortic regurgitation (AR) depends on your signs and symptoms and may include one or more of the following:

  • antibiotic medicine
  • diuretic medicine (water pills)
  • heart medicine
  • blood-thinning medicine
  • low-sodium diet
  • surgery to repair or replace the aortic valve

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.