Treatment for Aortic Valve Regurgitation

Aortic valve regurgitation is when the aortic valve leaks. The aortic valve is on the left side of the heart and sits between the left lower chamber (ventricle) and the large blood vessel that sends blood to the body (aorta).

Types of treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of your condition and how severe it is.

Mild to moderate aortic valve regurgitation with no symptoms and normal heart function and size may be treated with:

  • Regular monitoring. This includes regular checkups and testing.

  • Risk factor management. Aggressive management of conditions that can cause aortic valve disease, such as high blood pressure, is recommended. Certain blood pressure medicines such as ACE inhibitors or calcium channel blockers may be prescribed.

Severe aortic valve regurgitation especially if symptoms are present, heart function is reduced, or the heart is enlarged is usually treated with surgery.

  • Surgery. Most often the aortic valve will be replaced with either a mechanical or tissue valve depending on your age and other conditions. In rare cases, the valve may be repaired instead of replaced. Part of the aortic root may also be replaced with a graft if needed.

  • Medicines. For some people who are not candidates for surgery, medicines such as ACE inhibitors or calcium channel blockers may be used to relieve some of the pressure on the heart. If heart failure is present, medicines such as diuretics are used to prevent fluid retention. For those who get a mechanical aortic valve, a blood thinner called warfarin will be prescribed to prevent the valve from developing blood clots. Those who have any type of valve replacement are advised to take antibiotics before certain procedures to reduce the risk of heart valve infection.

Acute severe aortic valve regurgitation is a medical emergency. Surgery is often done right away.

An infection of the heart valves can cause acute mild valve regurgitation. You may only need antibiotic medicine for the infection.

Possible complications of aortic valve regurgitation

Possible complications of aortic valve regurgitation can include:

  • Heart failure

  • Bulging or weakening of the aorta (aortic aneurysm)

  • Bacterial infection of the heart valves

  • Problems from valve replacement surgery

  • Sudden death

To reduce the risk of complications, you may be given medicines such as:

  • Blood thinners to prevent blood clots

  • Antibiotics before some medical and dental procedures to prevent infections

  • Medicines to help the heart pump

Living with aortic valve regurgitation

See your healthcare provider for regular checkups. Call right away if your symptoms change.  Make sure to:

  • Watch for symptoms when you exercise. Early symptoms may be noticed during exercise or activity.

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about exercise and physical activity.

  • Tell all of your healthcare providers including your dentist about your condition.

  • Eat a low-salt, heart-healthy diet. This is to lower blood pressure and reduce the stress on your heart.

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol to reduce the risk of arrhythmias.

  • Use a cholesterol-lowering medicine if prescribed.

  • Stop smoking. Talk with your healthcare provider if you need help to stop.

Preventing aortic valve regurgitation

There are some things that you can do to help prevent aortic valve regurgitation, such as:

  • Managing high blood pressure with lifestyle and medicine

  • Having a sore throat checked for strep bacteria

  • Taking a full course of antibiotic medicine for any strep infection exactly as your healthcare provider tells you to


When to call your healthcare provider

If you notice your symptoms gradually getting worse, call your healthcare provider. He or she may recommend a change in medicines or possibly surgery.

Have someone call 911 right away if you have:

  • Paler than normal skin

  • Sudden shortness of breath

  • A fast or abnormal heartbeat

  • Fast breathing

  • Severe shortness of breath

  • Chest pain

  • Severe dizziness

  • Loss of consciousness