Bicuspid Aortic Valve

The normal aortic valve has three cusps, or leaflets. 

Bicuspid aortic value (BAV) is a defect of the aortic valve that is present at birth. The aortic valve acts as a one-way gate between the heart and the aorta, the main artery distributing blood to the body. Normally, the aortic valve has three flaps or “cusps” that open and close to regulate blood flow and prevent blood from flowing backwards into the heart. In a person who has a bicuspid aortic valve, there are only two cusps.

A BAV may become thickened and not open as well, causing the heart to have to pump harder than usual (aortic stenosis), and it may not be able to stop blood from leaking back into the heart (aortic regurgitation).

About 30% of people with BAV disease develop complications, which can be serious, even life-threatening.

Bicuspid aortic valve is usually not diagnosed until adulthood because, even with this defect, the aortic valve may function adequately for years without causing symptoms or complications. In rare cases, the disease may be severe enough to cause congestive heart failure early in life. The major complications of BAV include heart failure and aortic aneurysm with dissection. Diseased bicuspid aortic valves often require surgical repair or valve replacement.

Symptoms
• Trouble breathing
• Chest pain or pressure
• Fatigue
• Light-headedness
• Fainting

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