Aortic valve regurgitation

Aortic valve regurgitation — or aortic regurgitation — is a condition that occurs when your heart's aortic valve doesn't close tightly. Aortic valve regurgitation allows some of the blood that was just pumped out of your heart's main pumping chamber (left ventricle) to leak back into it.

The leakage may prevent your heart from efficiently pumping blood to the rest of your body. As a result, you may feel fatigued and short of breath.

Aortic valve regurgitation can develop suddenly or over decades. Once aortic valve regurgitation becomes severe, surgery is often required to repair or replace the aortic valve.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Most often, aortic valve regurgitation develops gradually, and your heart compensates for the problem. You may have no signs or symptoms for years, and you may even be unaware that you have the condition.

However, as aortic valve regurgitation worsens, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue and weakness, especially when you increase your activity level
  • Shortness of breath with exertion or when you lie down
  • Swollen ankles and feet (edema)
  • Chest pain (angina), discomfort or tightness, often increasing during exercise
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Irregular pulse (arrhythmia)
  • Heart murmur
  • Sensations of a rapid, fluttering heartbeat (palpitations)

When to see a doctor

Contact your doctor right away if signs and symptoms of aortic valve regurgitation develop. Sometimes the first indications of aortic valve regurgitation are those of its major complication, congestive heart failure. See your doctor if you have fatigue, shortness of breath, and swollen ankles and feet.

© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of use