What is aortic regurgitation?

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What is aortic regurgitation?

Aortic regurgitation is a medical condition that involves the backflow of blood from the aorta to the heart’s left ventricle.  This condition is also called aortic insufficiency and points to the inability of the aortic valve to properly close after blood passes through.  Because this particular valve doesn’t shut close, it allows leaking of blood to the opposite direction, and thereby causing an abnormality.

The incompetence in the aortic valve may result for a variety of reasons.  The problem could point to an abnormality in the valve itself or one of any valvular apparatus.  The regurgitation of blood could also result from trauma or disease to the aortic vessel.  Common illnesses that may lead to aortic regurgitation are bacterial endocarditis, rheumatic heart disease, and aortoannular ectasia among many others.  There are also many diseases that may affect the function of the aortic valve indirectly.  These diseases may include SLE or systemic lupus erythematosus, ankylosing spondylitis, and/or Marfan’s syndrome.

People with aortic regurgitation usually present with the following symptoms:  breathing difficulties especially during exertion, palpitations, chest pain or angina pectoris, and dizziness that comes along with the changing of body position. If the aortic regurgitation is considered acute, patients may also experience circulatory shock or cyanosis.  All these symptoms are considered very serious and similar to those having heart failures and so patients are advised to seek immediate medical attention when any of these conditions arise.

Treatment for aortic regurgitation may be medical or surgical depending on the symptoms presented by a particular patient.  Those treated with drugs are usually those with less or no symptoms.  Drugs commonly prescribed are vasodilators, ACE inhibitors, calcium blockers, diuretics, hydralazine, and nifedipine.  For those with severe symptoms, surgery may be the only option.  Surgery is aimed at replacing the aortic valve to correct the flow of blood and stop the regurgitation.

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