In acute aortic regurgitation, symptoms come on quickly since the heart has not had the time to compensate or enlarge. In chronic aortic regurgitation, symptoms develop more gradually and may not be noticed for years until the condition worsens.
In both cases, symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue, especially after physical activity
- Fluid retention in certain parts of the body, such as the ankles
(abnormal heart beats)
(chest pain from insufficient blood supply)
(low blood pressure)
In the case of severe acute aortic regurgitation, especially due to trauma, immediate surgery may be needed.
For chronic aortic regurgitation, the proper timing of medical therapy versus surgical treatment depends on several factors. These include:
- When you develop symptoms and how severe they are
- The degree of heart damage and level of heart function
- Your age
- The risks associated with the treatment
Treatment for aortic regurgitation may include:
If aortic regurgitation is not causing symptoms and heart function remains normal, you may be treated with medications that lower blood pressure. These medications may reduce the pressure against which the heart pumps. Medication may also be given to treat chest pain, to treat irregular heartbeats, to prevent infection of damaged or artificial valves, and to prevent blood clots. If you have heart failure, you may be treated with medications that help your heart pump more effectively.
Surgery is usually performed for severe acute aortic regurgitation or when the timing is right for chronic aortic regurgitation. If you have chronic aortic regurgitation, your doctor will follow your symptoms and heart function closely in order to determine the best surgical timing for you. Surgery involves replacing the aortic valve.
Prompt treatment of strep infections can prevent rheumatic fever, which is a risk factor for developing heart valve problems like aortic regurgitation. If you have an abnormal valve, you are at higher risk of developing valve infections. You should talk with your doctor to understand when you may need to take antibiotics to decrease your risk of valve infection. For instance, you may need antibiotics before undergoing certain dental procedures or surgeries.