Aortic Insufficiency

Aortic insufficiency (also referred to as aortic regurgitation) occurs when the aortic valve leaks, causing blood to flow in the opposite direction when the heart beats, from the aorta into the left ventricle.


  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling in the extremities (often lower legs) and/or fluid retention (sometimes known as ascites if around the abdomen)
  • Chest pain/pressure (angina)

Even without symptoms, any of the following may indicate the need for surgery. With a leaky aortic valve, it is preferable for patients to undergo an operation before symptoms develop. Once it is weakened, the heart may not return to full health and/or optimal function post-operation.

  • Enlargement of the heart.
  • Weakening of the heart muscle (“heart failure” or “congestive heart failure”).