The aortic valve is one of four valves that regulate blood flow through the heart. The aortic valve is located between the left lower chamber of the heart (left ventricle) and the blood vessel that carries blood to the rest of the body (the aorta).
Aortic regurgitation occurs when the flaps (leaflets) of the aortic valve do not close properly, allowing blood to leak backward into the left ventricle. Over time, a leaking aortic valve decreases the amount of blood flow to the body and increases the work of the heart. In addition, the aorta may become enlarged in patients with aortic regurgitation. This can also lead to the aortic valve leaflets not closing properly.
Patients with aortic regurgitation rarely have symptoms until the valve is severely leaking. These symptoms include difficulty breathing, trouble exercising and fatigue. Your doctor will often recommend treatment for severe aortic regurgitation before you develop symptoms. Severe aortic regurgitation over time can lead to serious heart complications, particularly failure of the left ventricle.
You can learn more about valvular heart disease, including the different types of heart valve problems, what causes these conditions and their symptoms, in the SecondsCount Valvular Heart Disease Center.
To learn about treatment options for aortic regurgitation, click here.