Purpose: The prevalence of valvular heart disease has been rising, especially among those ≥ 65 years of age, because of age-related valvular degeneration resulting in an increase in the number of patients diagnosed with aortic regurgitation (AR). We analyzed transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) images in AR patients to identify the etiologies and investigate any differences in them according to age. Methods: We studied 146 consecutive patients with chronic moderate or severe AR who underwent TEE. AR etiology was evaluated based on the TEE images in all the patients, as well as in each group separated by age. Results: The total number of patients eligible was 126 (mean age 67 ± 12 years), consisting of an older group (n = 85, mean age 74 ± 5 years) and younger group (n = 41, mean age 52 ± 11 years). In total, the most common etiology of AR was cusp bending (33.0%). In the older group, it was the most frequent as well (48.2%), with the right coronary cusp being the most commonly affected site (90.2%). In the younger group, bicuspid aortic valve was the most common (36.5%). Subsequently, all the study subjects were re-classified into two groups according to the presence/absence of cusp bending. Multivariate analysis revealed that age was the only factor associated with cusp bending. Conclusion: Cusp bending was the most frequent etiology of AR in the elderly. Preoperative detection of cusp bending by TEE would expand the therapeutic strategy for AR, including aortic valvuloplasty.
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