Aortic insufficiency

Synonyms: Aortic regurgitation, Aortic valve regurgitation

Medical Specialties: Cardiology, Internal medicine, Surgery

Clinical Definition

Aortic insufficiency is a cardiac valve condition in which the aortic valve fails to close properly during ventricular diastole. The leaky valve creates a regurgitant flow of blood back into the left ventricle. Due to the backwards blood flow, left ventricular pressure can increase, possibly leading to hypertrophy of the myocardium. In some instances, heart failure can develop. 

In Our Own Words

Aortic insufficiency occurs when the aortic valve does not close tightly after a heartbeat. The aortic valve is one of four main valves of the heart. It is positioned between the aorta and the left ventricle. Normally, the aortic valve opens and allows oxygen rich blood to flow out of the left ventricle into the aorta and throughout the body. Normally it closes immediately after a beat to prevent backflow.


In aortic insufficiency, because the valve doesn’t close properly, blood leaks from the aorta back into the heart. The increased blood back into the heart causes the heart to work harder, which may lead to thickening of the heart. Over time, the thickened heart does not work as efficiently and may not be able to pump blood throughout the body properly. 

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  • American Heart Association. “Problem: Aortic Valve Regurgitation.” Assessed September 2013.
  • Cleveland Clinic. “Types of Valve Disease.” Assessed September 2013.
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