Home > Health Library > Aortic Valve Regurgitation: Deciding About Surgery
The major decision in treating
aortic valve regurgitation is whether to have aortic
valve replacement surgery and, if so, when to do it.
Your doctor will check the severity of your condition. Your doctor will also check your overall health to see if surgery is too risky for you. Then you and your doctor will weigh the benefits of surgery against the risks for you.
surgery is usually only done if regurgitation is severe and in danger of
doing irreparable damage to your heart. The risk of surgery is justified if the
regurgitation is severe enough to threaten the health of your heart or your
Your doctor will check many things to see if surgery is right for you. Your doctor will check:
Your doctor may recommend that you have surgery even if you don't
have symptoms, because symptoms typically only occur after the condition has
progressed to the point that it has already damaged the heart.
The timing of valve replacement surgery might depend on how likely it is that your valve disease will get worse.
doctor will assess the progression of regurgitation by comparing the results of
your most recent echocardiogram with your earlier results. How often you have an
echocardiogram depends on the severity of your regurgitation. The faster the regurgitation progresses, the sooner you will
need a valve replacement.
If your condition has been progressing slowly, you may be able to
wait a little longer before having a valve replacement. But if you have
other compounding factors, such as high blood pressure and coronary artery
disease, the regurgitation is more likely to get worse soon, and
surgery may be needed sooner.
If you are going to have bypass surgery, your doctor may recommend that you have your valve replaced at the same time.
The severity of regurgitation and the likelihood it will get worse
need to be balanced against the risks involved with having a valve replacement
surgery has a high rate of success and a low risk of causing other problems if
you are otherwise healthy. But the surgery is an open-heart surgery.
Although most people have successful outcomes, there is a risk of death
and serious problems during surgery. About 5% or less of people having
valve surgery die.footnote 1
Even if valve
replacement surgery is a success, you may have problems after surgery, such
For most people, surgery to repair the aortic valve is not an option. This is because of the very
high blood pressure in the left ventricle, which pumps blood to the rest of the body. The high blood pressure makes the repaired valve start leaking again.
Otto CM, Bonow RO (2012). Valvular heart disease. In RO Bonow et al., eds., Braunwald’s Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine, 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1468–1539. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Other Works Consulted
Nishimura RA, et al. (2014). 2014 AHA/ACC guideline for the management of patients with valvular heart disease: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation, published online March 3, 2014. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000031. Accessed May 1, 2014.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, ElectrophysiologyMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family MedicineE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerStephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
Current as ofMarch 28, 2016
Current as of:
March 28, 2016
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Stephen Fort, MD, MRCP, FRCPC - Interventional Cardiology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
I Want To...
Join Our Social Network