Ask the doctor: Do I really need surgery to fix my aortic valve?

Published: January, 2011

Q. I have had a leaking aortic valve for many years. I get an echocardiogram every six months. After the latest one, my doctor told me that my heart was enlarging and asked me repeatedly whether I was getting short of breath with exercise. I told him that sure, I get tired, but it isn't like I am breathing hard while sitting still. Now he wants me to have surgery to replace the valve. Should I do this at age 68?

A. You have been getting exactly the right attention for what is called aortic regurgitation. This is the backflow of some blood into your left ventricle with each heartbeat, instead of it all going into your aorta.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »