If the aortic valve does not close properly, the blood can return from the aorta to the left ventricle; this disorder is called aortic insufficiency. The cause of this disorder is most likely a rheumatic fever; the aortic valve can be damaged due to syphilis, but today it causes only 1% of all cases of aortic insufficiency. Due to the strong insufficiency, the left ventricle is widening and its walls become thicker, which is the result of additional work. The part of the valve sometimes ruptures due to the damage from bacterial endocarditis.
After the aortic insufficiency occurs, symptoms often do not appear for years, but they develop quickly if the valve reuptures. The main symptom is the shortness of breath. Signs of angina pectoris and all symptoms of cardiac decompensation may also occur.
Since rheumatic fever and syphilis are not as widespread as efore, aortic insufficiency is no longer common.
What to do?
Contact your doctor if you have any of these symptoms mentioned. Examination and diagnostic tests are similar to those for other heart defects, as your doctor will still refer you to your blood test to see if you have an active or latent syphilis. If you think you have aortic insufficiency, reduce your physical activities to a moderate extent. After a variety of diagnostic examinations, the doctor will decide if the surgical procedure – valve replacement – is advisable. In that case, you will get an artificial valve or valve from the transplanted (own) fibrous tissue.