In symptomatic severe aortic regurgitation, left ventricular diastolic pressure increases rapidly, often exceeding left atrial pressure in late diastole. This characteristic hemodynamic change should be reflected in the Doppler mitral inflow velocity, which is the direct result of the diastolic pressure difference between the left ventricle and left atrium. Mitral inflow velocity was obtained by pulsed wave Doppler echocardiography in 11 patients (6 men, 5 women; mean age 53 years) with severe symptomatic aortic regurgitation and compared with normal values from 11 sex- and age-matched control subjects. The following Doppler variables were determined: velocity of early filling wave (E), velocity of late filling wave due to atrial contraction (A), E to A ratio (E/A), deceleration time and pressure half-time. In severe aortic regurgitation, E and E/A (1.13 m/s and 3.3, respectively) were significantly higher (p < 0.001) than normal (0.60 m/s and 1.5, respectively). Deceleration time and pressure half-time (117 and 34 ms, respectively) were significantly shorter (p < 0.001) than normal (203 and 59 ms, respectively). Late filling wave velocity (A) was not statistically different in the two groups, although it tended to be lower in the patient group (0.39 versus 0.50 m/s). Diastolic mitral regurgitation was present in eight patients (73%). M-mode echocardiography of the mitral valve, performed in 10 patients, showed that only 3 (30%) had premature mitral valve closure. In symptomatic severe aortic regurgitation, the Doppler mitral inflow velocity pattern is characteristic, with increased early filling wave velocity (E) and early to late filling wave ratio (E/A) and decreased deceleration time of the E wave. This Doppler pattern appears to be more sensitive than premature closure of the mitral valve for detecting hemodynamically significant aortic regurgitation.
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