Carilion Clinic's Structural Heart and Valve Center provides specialized treatment, including evaluation, diagnosis and medical management, for patients with heart valve disease. We take a multidisciplinary approach to treatment, with every patient benefiting from the collaborative expertise of a team of experts, including general cardiologists, structural interventional cardiologists, and heart surgeons with a special interest in structural and valvular heart disease. The team meets weekly to discuss each case and identify the best treatment strategy for every patient.

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Your heart has four valves which regulate the flow of blood in and out. Heart valves can be defective at birth or can become diseased or weakened over time. Damaged valves may not open properly (stenosis) or may not close adequately (valve regurgitation, insufficiency or incompetence). Depending on how your health and activity level is affected, you may need to have a heart valve repair or replacement. Carilion is honored to be among the first hospitals in the nation and the only hospital in western Virginia able to treat certain patients with severe aortic stenosis with a new procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).

Valve problems may occur as a birth defect, as a result of calcium deposits, after an infection affecting the heart, or because of medications.

Symptoms of heart valve disease may include: shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, swelling in your legs, ankles or abdomen palpitations, sudden, fast weight gain, or weakness or dizziness.

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A properly functioning aortic valve is like the door that allows blood to flow from the heart's left ventricle into the aorta and from there on to the brain and other organs. Aortic regurgitation occurs when some of the blood leaks back into the heart instead of traveling throughout the body. This backward flow of blood into the left ventricle slowly causes damage, stretching it out. There are many reasons for the aortic valve to become leaky, including a dilated aorta (aneurysm), age related degeneration, or complications of rheumatic fever. It can develop suddenly or over a long period of time.

Symptoms of aortic regurgitation include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in the ankles
  • Trouble breathing when laying flat

Tests used to diagnose aortic regurgitation include:

  • Physical exam, to listen for a heart murmur during the relaxing phase of the cardiac cycle (diastole)
  • Echocardiography, to identify the leaky aortic valve and measure the severity
  • Transesophageal echocardiography, to clarify the reason for the leakiness of the aortic valve
  • CT scan, to assess the size of the aorta

Treatment options for aortic regurgitation include:

  • Aortic valve replacement
  • Combined aortic root and valve replacement
  • Medical management with medication to treat symptoms including diuretics to remove excess fluid


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Aortic Regurgitation
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