Treatment of aortic valve regurgitation depends on the severity of your condition, whether you're experiencing signs and symptoms, and if your condition is getting worse.
If your symptoms are mild or you aren't experiencing symptoms, your doctor may monitor your condition with regular follow-up appointments. Your doctor may recommend that you make healthy lifestyle changes and take medications to treat symptoms or reduce the risk of complications.
You may eventually need surgery to repair or replace the diseased aortic valve. In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery even if you aren't experiencing symptoms. If you're having another heart surgery, doctors may perform aortic valve surgery at the same time. In some cases, you may need a section of the aorta (aortic root) repaired or replaced at the same time as aortic valve surgery if the aorta is enlarged.
If you have aortic valve regurgitation, consider being evaluated and treated at a medical center with a multidisciplinary team of cardiologists and other doctors and medical staff trained and experienced in evaluating and treating heart valve disease. This team can work closely with you to determine the most appropriate treatment for your condition.
Surgery to repair or replace an aortic valve is usually performed through a cut (incision) in the chest. In some cases, doctors may perform minimally invasive heart surgery, which involves the use of smaller incisions than those used in open-heart surgery.
Surgery options include:
Aortic valve repair
To repair an aortic valve, surgeons may conduct several different types of repair, including separating valve flaps (cusps) that have fused, reshaping or removing excess valve tissue so that the cusps can close tightly, or patching holes in a valve.
Doctors may use a catheter procedure to insert a plug or device to repair a leaking replacement aortic valve.
Aortic valve replacement
Aortic valve replacement is often needed to treat aortic valve regurgitation. In aortic valve replacement, your surgeon removes the damaged valve and replaces it with a mechanical valve or a valve made from cow, pig or human heart tissue (biological tissue valve). Another type of biological tissue valve replacement that uses your own pulmonary valve is sometimes possible.
Biological tissue valves degenerate over time and may eventually need to be replaced. People with mechanical valves will need to take blood-thinning medications for life to prevent blood clots. Your doctor will discuss with you the benefits and risks of each type of valve and discuss which valve may be appropriate for you.
Doctors may also conduct a catheter procedure to insert a replacement valve into a failing biological tissue valve that is no longer working properly. Other procedures using catheters to repair or replace aortic valves to treat aortic valve regurgitation continue to be researched.