Bicuspid Aortic Valve Treatment

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Bicuspid aortic valve disease can sneak up on you, making you short of breath and tired. You might have chest pain or dizzy spells, leaving you worried about your heart health. If you have a bicuspid aortic valve, it means one of the valves in your heart isn’t the ideal shape. This can make it harder for your heart to do its job.

At UVA Health, our aortic experts can get right to the root of your symptoms. And we can fix your bicuspid valve if your symptoms are getting serious. In fact, 4 of our heart, vein, and artery treatments got the highest possible rating from U.S. News & World Report, including aortic valve surgery.

Bicuspid Aortic Valve Treatment at UVA Health

Your aortic valve lets oxygen-rich blood flow from your heart into your aorta, your body's largest blood vessel. The aorta carries blood away from your heart to your body. The aortic valve usually has 3 flaps (called cusps) that keep blood flow from moving backward. A bicuspid valve only has 2 cusps.

How we treat your bicuspid aortic valve disease depends on your symptoms. In mild cases, you may not need treatment. If you do need treatment, it might include:

  • Medicine to manage symptoms and other heart issues
  • Surgery or a procedure to repair or replace the valve

Medicines can't repair your bicuspid aortic valve. But they can help with symptoms.

Bicuspid Aortic Valve Surgery & Procedures

When medicines aren’t working, you may need a procedure or surgery to fix your aortic valve. The best way to fix your aortic valve depends on lots of factors. We'll go over with you the best choice for your condition. Options include:

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) uses only very small cuts on your body (called incisions) so that we can get to your aortic valve. Through the incisions, we thread a small tube (called a catheter) to reach your aortic valve and replace it.

TAVR isn't the right choice for everyone. If we can't use TAVR, we can still repair or replace your bicuspid valve with a traditional open surgery.

Why Did I Get Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease?

A bicuspid aortic valve is something you're born with (called congenital heart disease). We don’t yet know why the aortic valve only forms 2 cusps instead of 3 in some people.

You’re more likely to have it if you:

  • Have family members with a bicuspid aortic valve (passed on in family genes)
  • Have a genetic disease, like Marfan syndrome
  • Are male (it’s more common in men)

Don't Ignore Bicuspid Valve Symptoms: See an Expert

Many people never feel any symptoms or even learn that they have a bicuspid aortic valve. Others show symptoms at birth or while they’re still babies.

You might feel:

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Trouble beathing or feeling like you’re not getting enough air
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Heart murmur

If you're having bicuspid valve symptoms, it's important to see an aortic valve expert. A bicuspid valve can make it harder for your heart to pump blood around your body.

Most commonly, the valve leaks or becomes stiff over time, leading to heart disease that shows up when you’re an adult. And with a bicuspid aortic valve, you may be more likely to get other heart or artery conditions, like:

  • Aortic stenosis (the valve becomes narrow and limits blood flow)
  • Regurgitation (blood flows back into the heart)
  • Aortic aneurysm (pressure causes your aorta to get bigger, which puts it at risk for tearing)

Without treatment, your body doesn’t get the right amount of oxygen, and you may develop heart failure.