(Aortic Regurgitation; Aortic Incompetence)
by Krisha McCoy, MS
The aorta is the main artery carrying oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the body. After each heartbeat, 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 insufficiency can be caused by:
Sometimes the cause of aortic insufficiency is unknown.
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that may increase your chances of 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.
Aortic insufficiency may not be preventable. If you have a family history, talk with your doctor about screening tests.
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Public Health Agency of Canada
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Problem: Aortic valve regurgitation. American Heart Association website. Available at:
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Updated September 7, 2017. Accessed September 15, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael J. Fucci, DO, FACC
Last Updated: 8/20/2014
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