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A bicuspid aortic valve is a congenital (at birth) condition where the aortic valve has two leaflets instead of three. In a normal heart, the aortic valve has three leaflets to allow blood to flow forward from the heart into the aorta, and the leaflets close to prevent blood from flowing back into the heart. If you have a bicuspid aortic valve, your valve may not be as effective at preventing blood from flowing backwards into the heart.

Symptoms of Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease

Many people do not experience symptoms until they reach adulthood. As the valve ages, calcium can build up on the valve flaps, which can cause them to become narrow and stiff, a condition called aortic stenosis. It the valve is unable to close sufficiently, it can cause blood to leak back into the heart, also known as regurgitation. When this occurs, the heart can become strained and produce the following symptoms or complications:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Heart racing
  • Shortness of breath during exercise
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fainting

Other complications from bicuspid aortic valve disease include:

  • Infective endocarditis
  • Aortic aneurysm
  • Coarctation of the aorta
  • Heart failure

Diagnosing Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease

Your health care provider may recommend one or more of these diagnostic tests:

  • Coronary angiography
  • CT scan
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • MRI
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram

Treatment at the Heart Valve Center at Chester County Hospital

Over time, your bicuspid aortic valve disease may require surgery to repair or replace the valve and part of the aorta. If surgery is required, a multidisciplinary team at the Heart Valve Center at Chester County Hospital will evaluate, test, treat and perform follow-up care right here in your community. If you require more advanced care, you will have access to the latest procedures and devices available at Penn Medicine hospitals in Philadelphia, PA.

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