Role of vasodilators in regurgitant valve disease

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Opinion statement

Vasodilator therapy is designed to reduce regurgitant volume and improve left ventricular function. Acute administration reduces vascular resistance and decreases regurgitant volume and left ventricular filling pressure. These effects may be clinically useful in acute regurgitations, but less consistent results have been reported in long-term therapy. In chronic mitral functional regurgitation, vasodilator therapy has proved to have clinical or prognostic benefit only when heart failure or poor ventricular function is present. The indication of vasodilator treatment in aortic regurgitation has raised significant controversy. Several studies with small series have shown beneficial effects on regurgitant volume, ejection fraction, and mass of the left ventricle. Nevertheless, in the only two randomized long-term follow-up studies, results differed completely. In our experience, both nifedipine and enalapril failed to reduce the need for valvular surgery or show benefits in echocardiographic parameters. Vasodilator therapy would be indicated only in patients with severe aortic regurgitation and systemic hypertension, or when surgery is contraindicated.