By Adam Pick, Patient & Author Of The Patient’s Guide To Heart Valve Surgery
Bicsuspid Aortic Valve
Three Cusps (Normal) vs.
Two Cusps (Bicuspid)
Aortic Bicuspid Valve Symptoms And Treatment A bicuspid aortic valve occurs when the aortic valve does not fully develop while the baby is in the womb. That said, bicuspid aortic valves are one of the most common congenital heart defects affecting about 1-2% of all children.
What Is A Bicuspid Aortic Valve?
A bicuspid aortic valve is a heart condition that is due to a congenital deformity. A normal aortic valve has three cusps to manage the flow of blood through the heart. A bicuspid valve, however, only has only two cusps. As you can see in the diagram below, the bicuspid aortic valve has conjoined cusps. This can limit the flow of blood across the aortic heart valve.
The impact of a bicuspid aortic valve significantly varies from patient to patient. There can be severe aortic stenosis at birth. Or, aortic stenosis can also develop during childhood or during adulthood. Typically bicuspid aortic valve symptoms peak around the fourth decade of life. Aortic valve leakage (called aortic regurgitation or aortic insufficiency) is less common during early childhood but can also develop over time.
Symptoms Of Bicuspid Aortic Valves
Some of the most common heart valve symptoms (for bicuspid aortic valves and other heart valve defects) referenced by The Cleveland Clinic are:
- Shortness of breath, especially with exertion or when you lie down
- Fatigue, especially during times of increased activity
- Cough, especially at night or when lying down
- Heart palpitations — sensations of a rapid, fluttering heartbeat
- Swollen feet or ankles
- Chest pain (angina) or tightness
Many patients with bicuspid aortic valves will require surgical treatment during their lifetime. Treatment may consist of heart valve repair or heart valve replacement.
My Story With A Defective Bicuspid Aortic Valve?
As a result of my bicuspid aortic valve, I suffered from both severe aortic stenosis and aortic regurgitation. Eight weeks after my diagnosis, I had aortic valve replacement surgery to replace my bicuspid aortic valve. Dr. Vaughn Starnes performed the surgery at USC Medical Center.
Great Article and informative!