A poorly functioning or insufficient aortic valve can be identified when a doctor listens to the heart during a physical examination. A chest x ray, an electrocardiogram (ECG, an electrical printout of the heart beats), as well as an echocardiogram (a test that uses sound waves to create an image of the heart and its valves), can further evaluate or confirm the condition.
Aortic insufficiency is usually corrected by having the defective valve surgically replaced. However, such an operation is done in severe cases. Before the condition worsens, certain drugs can be used to help manage this condition.
Drugs that remove water from the body, drugs that lower blood pressure, and drugs that help the heart beat more effectively can each be used for this condition. Reducing the amount of salt in the diet also helps lower the amount of fluid the body holds and can help the heart to work more efficiently as well.
In cases of a severely malfunctioning valve that has been untreated for a long time, surgery is the treatment of choice, especially if the heart is not functioning normally. Human heart valves can be replaced with man-made valves or with valves taken from pig hearts.
Although drug treatment can help put off the need for surgical valve replacement, it is important to replace the faulty valve before the heart muscle itself is damaged beyond recovery.
Braunwald, Eugene. "Valvular Heart Disease." In Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, ed. Anthony S. Fauci, et al. New York: McGraw Hill, 1997.
"Heart Valve Surgery." In Cardiovascular Diseases and Disorders Sourcebook, ed. Karen Bellenir and Peter D. Dresser. Detroit: Omnigraphics, Inc., 1995.
Dominic De Bellis PhD, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,