Bicuspid Aortic Valve
Bicuspid aortic valve disease (BAVD) is a heart defect that is present at birth (congenital). A healthy aortic valve has three flaps or cusps that open and close to control blood flow and prevent blood flowing backwards into the heart. In BAVD, the aortic valve cannot work properly because it has only two flaps. When the valve does not close properly, blood can flow back into the heart (aortic regurgitation). Over time, the valve can also become stiff and narrow (aortic stenosis). The cause of BAVD is unknown but it is thought to be caused by a connective tissue disorder, similar to the condition that causes Marfan syndrome.
If untreated, BAVD can lead to aortic aneurysm or aortic dissection.
Symptoms of BAVD
Bicuspid aortic valve disease may present with the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath and dizziness
- Heart murmurs
Diagnosing and Treating BAVD
Specialists at Houston Methodist perform a physical exam, which includes listening to the heart, and they will recommend a variety of tests to diagnose patients with BAVD, including an echocardiography (heart ultrasound), computed tomography (CT) scans, and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to evaluate the heart. In addition, an electrocardiogram (EKG) may be used to test the heart’s electrical activity or a coronary angiography (an X-ray of the heart's blood vessels using a special dye) may be used to help diagnose patients.
Some patients diagnosed with BAVD will require surgical treatment to repair or replace the valve and part of the aorta. Surgical treatment may include a minimally invasive aortic valve replacement with a small incision, or in more severe cases, an aortic valve repair or replacement.
Perhaps the best way to learn about our valve specialists is through our patients. We invite you to read these inspiring stories.