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Aortic Regurgitation

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Aortic regurgitation is a condition that causes blood to flow backward through the aortic valve to your left ventricle. This happens because the aortic valve does not close properly. 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.

Heart Chambers

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or have someone call if:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
    • You may also have any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat

Seek care immediately if:

  • 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.

Call your doctor or cardiologist 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.

Medicines:

  • Medicines may be given to lower your blood pressure, decrease stress on your heart, or remove extra fluid.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage aortic regurgitation:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can increase your risk for high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. These conditions can make your heart work harder. Ask your healthcare provider what a healthy weight is for you. Ask him or her 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.
  • Limit or do not drink alcohol. Ask your healthcare provider if it is okay for you to drink alcohol. Alcohol can increase your risk for high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. Your provider can tell you how many drinks are okay to have within 24 hours or within 1 week. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods. Heart-healthy foods include salmon, tuna, walnuts, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, and oils such as olive or canola oil. A dietitian or your provider can give you more information on meal plans such as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan. The DASH plan is low in sodium, processed sugar, unhealthy fats, and total fat. It is high in potassium, calcium, and fiber. These can be found in vegetables, fruit, and whole-grain foods.

  • Limit sodium (salt) as directed. Too much sodium can affect your fluid balance. Check labels to find low-sodium or no-salt-added foods. You can also make small changes to get less salt. For example, if you add salt while you cook, do not add more salt at the table. Ask your healthcare provider or dietitian for more ways to cut down on salt.

  • 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.
  • Ask about vaccines you may need. Certain diseases are dangerous for a person who has aortic regurgitation. Vaccines help prevent infections that can cause some diseases. Get a flu vaccine as soon as recommended each year, usually in September or October. Your healthcare provider can tell you if you also need other vaccines, and when to get them.

Prevent aortic regurgitation:

  • Manage other health conditions. High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels increase your risk for aortic regurgitation. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on managing these conditions.
  • Get treatment for strep throat. If strep throat is not treated, it can cause rheumatic fever.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider before you take any new medicine. Some medicines can cause aortic regurgitation.

Follow up with your doctor or cardiologist as directed:

You may need to return for more tests to check your heart over time. 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.

Learn more about Aortic Regurgitation (Discharge Care)

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Further information

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