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Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease 

Bicuspid aortic value disease is characterized by an aortic value with two cusps instead of three.  

The aortic valve is an important structure in the heart. It serves as the one-way door between the heart and aorta, which is the largest artery in the body and moves oxygenated blood from the heart to the extremities.  

Normally, the aortic valve has three flexible leaflets or cusps that open and close in a finely tuned process that occurs during every heartbeat. When the cusps are open wide, blood flows from the heart to the aorta. When the cusps are closed tightly, they prevent blood from flowing back into the heart.  

A person with bicuspid aortic valve disease (BAVD) has an aortic valve with two cusps instead of three, and sometimes the valve does not function properly.  

Causes of Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease 

Bicuspid aortic valve disease is a congenital condition, which means someone with the condition is born with it. It is believed to be an inherited condition, and approximately 2% of the population has it. BAVD is twice as common in males as in females.  

Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease Symptoms 

Many people with BAVD will never experience symptoms or problems. Others may eventually develop aortic valve stenosis (narrowing) or aortic valve regurgitation (leaking) as they grow older.  

Someone with a bicuspid aortic valve may experience: 

  • Chest pain 
  • Fatigue 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Heart murmur 
  • Fainting 
  • Lightheadedness 

 
Someone with bicuspid aortic valve disease may also have other heart and vascular conditions, such as abnormal coronary arteries, aortic aneurysm or an abnormal thoracic aorta (the portion of the aorta that passes through the upper chest) and unstable high blood pressure.  

Diagnosis 

To diagnose bicuspid aortic valve disease, a physician typically completes a physical exam on a patient and listens to his or her heart. If BAVD is suspected, additional tests may be ordered, such as: 

  • Echocardiography 
  • Transesophageal echocardiography 
  • CT scans 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)  

Other problems with the heart and arteries that can arise as complications of BAVD. In these instances, an electrocardiogram (ECG) or coronary angiography may also be performed to identify and address those problems.  

Treatments 

The treatments a doctor recommends for BAVD will depend on a patient’s overall health and unique needs. When the condition is severe and present at birth, surgery must be performed to repair the valve in the newborn or during early infancy.  

In general, treatment options may include: 

  • Surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR) 
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)  
  • Surgical aortic valve repair 
  • Surgical aorta repair 

At Tampa General Hospital, our heart and vascular specialists take a multidisciplinary approach to care, working together to ensure each patient with bicuspid aortic valve disease receives world-class care and optimal outcomes. We are able to treat even the most complex cases with a high level of skill and expertise.