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What you need to know about aortic regurgitation:
The aortic valve is between the left ventricle and the aorta. The aorta is a blood vessel that pumps blood to your body. The aortic valve opens and closes to direct blood from your left ventricle to your aorta. Aortic regurgitation is when blood flows backward through the aortic valve to your left ventricle. This happens because the aortic valve does not close properly.
Signs and symptoms:
You may not have symptoms or you may have any of the following:
- Weakness or fatigue
- Shortness of breath that gets worse during activity or when you lie down
- Chest pain or tightness
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- A fast heartbeat or feeling your heart flutter
- Swollen feet or ankles
Call 911 for any of the following:
- You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
- Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
- Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
- Trouble breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing
- You cough up blood.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- Your heart is beating faster than usual and you feel fluttering in your chest.
- You have new or worse swelling in your abdomen, legs, ankles, or feet.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- You feel more tired than usual.
- You are more short of breath than usual when you exercise or lie down.
- You cough more than usual, especially when you lie down.
- You are pregnant or think you are pregnant.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Treatment of aortic regurgitation
may depend on your symptoms and how severe your condition is. Medicines may be given to lower your blood pressure, decrease stress on your heart, or remove extra fluid. Your aortic valve may be repaired or replaced if it causes severe symptoms. This may be done through open heart surgery or a heart catheterization.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can increase your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary artery disease. These conditions can make your symptoms worse. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung and heart damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Do not drink alcohol. Ask your cardiologist if it is safe for you to drink alcohol. Alcohol can increase your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary artery disease.
- Eat heart-healthy foods and limit sodium (salt). Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat fewer canned and processed foods. Replace butter and margarine with heart-healthy oils such as olive oil and canola oil. Other heart-healthy foods include walnuts, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, and lean meats. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are also heart healthy. Ask how much salt you can eat each day. Too much salt can cause fluid to build up in your body. This can increase stress on your heart.
- Exercise as directed. Exercise can help keep your heart healthy. Ask your healthcare provider what activities are safe for you to do. The amount and type of exercise that is safe may depend on how severe your condition is.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about pregnancy. If you are a woman and want to get pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider. You and your baby may need to be monitored by specialists during your pregnancy.
- Ask your healthcare provider if you should take antibiotics before certain procedures. Some procedures may allow bacteria to get into your blood and travel to your heart. This can make your condition worse.
Follow up with your cardiologist as directed:
You may need to return for more tests to check your heart. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.