The aortic valve sits between the left sided pumping chamber (called the left ventricle) and the aorta.
The normal aortic valve has 3 flaps or “cusps” that open each time the left heart pumps blood to the body. Translating Bicuspid Aortic Valve into plain English:
Therefore, Bicuspid Aortic Valve (BAV) means having two instead of three cusps in the aortic valve, which sits between the left ventricle and the aorta. Over time, the cusps may thicken and not open freely, so that the left ventricle has to work harder to pump blood out the narrowed valve. Because of the extra work, the heart muscle gets thicker (like a muscle after weight lifting). Narrowing of the aortic valve is called aortic stenosis.
BAVs can also become leakier over time. The left ventricle gets bigger (like a bag with too much fluid) and may become weak, leading to heart failure.
Some people with BAVs can also have a large aorta.
You betcha! Having BAV is very common. Aortic stenosis is the most common complication of a BAV.
Children born with a BAV are often healthy and have no symptoms. The diagnosis may be made after a doctor or nurse hears a ‘click’ or ‘heart murmur’ (= swishing of blood as it moves through the heart).
Some kids have early narrowing of the valve treated with a valvuloplasty done at the time of cardiac catheterization. This involves blowing up a balloon inside the valve to stretch it open.
Many patients with a BAV have no symptoms at all and feel just fine. But problems can occur later in life.
You should tell your doctor about the following symptoms:
Some patients with an isolated BAV can be followed by any cardiologist. Patients with BAV and other CHDs can have new heart problems when they’re older and need to be followed closely in an Adult CHD centre.
Heart ultrasounds (Echos), CTs and MRIs are used to monitor the strength of the heart and the size of the aorta.
Treatment of aortic valve narrowing may involve:
This website is designed specifically for young people with congenital heart disease. The goal is to provide information to help people who are getting ready to move (or have recently moved) to adult heart care. We use the term ‘transition’ to describe this process. Family, friends and health care providers may also find this website helpful.
Please be advised this site does not provide medical advice. All of the content on this website is provided for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have or suspect you have a health problem, please consult your family physician. If you have or suspect you are experiencing a health emergency, please promptly visit a Hospital Emergency Department in your area. Reliance on any information provided on or provided in relation to the site is solely at your own risk. Contributors to this website are not responsible, nor liable, for any claim, loss or damage arising from the use of the information contained within this site.
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HELPING YOU MAKE THE MOVE TO ADULT CONGENITAL HEART DISEASE CARE
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This website is designed mainly for young people with congenital heart disease (CHD). The aim is to help people feel more ready to “transition” from pediatric to adult care. And we know that family, friends and health care providers might also want to check it out!
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