Medical Q&As

Aortic incompetence - surgery now?

I'm 38 and just being diagnosed with aortic valve incompetence. My doctor says not to worry about it and I shouldn’t need a replacement valve until I'm in my sixties. I can nevertheless stop thinking about it and that I would like it done now, sooner than later and I think it is starting to cause me some stress.

Aortic incompetence means that the aortic valve is leaking, which leads to blood leaking back into the left ventricle from the aorta. Many people have this condition and are completely unaware of that fact because they are symptom free. Your question does not indicate the extent of investigation that you have undergone or the level of symptoms, if any, that you are suffering from. If a cardiologist has not assessed your condition it would be appropriate to request such an assessment in order to establish the degree of leakage in the valve. On the other hand if your condition has been assessed and it has been established that the degree of leakage is not significant it is reasonable to defer surgery and review your progress periodically. If the leak is minor and there is no evidence of significant impact on cardiac function I would not be pushing to undergo surgery now. Valve replacement surgery is not an insignificant surgical undertaking. I repeat, if a cardiologist has not assessed your condition I would request such referral.