Pulmonary regurgitation (PR, also called pulmonic regurgitation) is a leaky pulmonary valve. This valve helps control the flow of blood passing from the right ventricle to the lungs. A leaky pulmonary valve allows blood to flow back into the heart chamber before it gets to the lungs for oxygen.
What causes pulmonary regurgitation?
The most common causes for a leaky pulmonary valve is pulmonary hypertension.
Less common causes are:
- Infective endocarditis
- Complications after surgery to repair tetralogy of Fallot
- Carcinoid syndrome
- Rheumatic fever (PDF)(link opens in new window) and complications after catheterization (rare causes in the United States)
What are the symptoms of pulmonary regurgitation?
There are usually no noticeable early symptoms. Signs that can be detected during a medical exam include a heart murmur.
Eventually, the right ventricle can become enlarged. Rarely, these conditions can progress to heart failure, which can create more noticeable symptoms such as chest pain or discomfort, fatigue, lightheadedness or fainting.
How is pulmonary regurgitation treated?
Treatment is usually focused on the underlying cause that created the valve problem (i.e., pulmonary hypertension). The pulmonary valve very rarely needs to be replaced.
Jen was born with tetralogy of Fallot, and ultimately had valve replacement surgery for her pulmonary valve. Watch Jen share her story: