A bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) is a common congenital defect of the aortic valve that results in the formation of two leaflets (flaps) instead of the normal three. This condition occurs in approximately one to two percent of the population. In many cases, the condition does not initially cause any significant problems. However, later in life, a murmur from stenosis (narrowing) or regurgitation (leaking) can occur. If left untreated, this may eventually be life-threatening.
Anyone who has ever been diagnosed with and/or treated for bicuspid aortic valve should have lifelong care from a cardiologist who specializes in congenital heart defects. The Ohio State University Medical Center provides this care from birth to adulthood. We partner with Nationwide Children’s Hospital to provide the resources necessary for the care of adult congenital cardiac patients through the Columbus Ohio Adult Congenital Heart Disease Program (COACH).
The COACH program focuses on:
- Adults with congenital heart disease (CHD)
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Cardiovascular connective tissue disorders
- Pregnancy in women with heart disease
- Transition of adolescents with CHD into adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) care
- Training of future ACHD providers
Why Choose The Ohio State University Medical Center?
Ohio State’s Medical Center offers a team approach to CHD, which means each patient is evaluated by an Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) specialist, and when appropriate, a cardiac surgeon, an imaging specialist and an interventional cardiologist with training in CHD. This integrated approach means that each patient’s disease is treated individually, with that particular patient’s needs, and physical condition, in mind.
What Is a Bicuspid Aortic Valve?
The aortic valve, which separates the heart from the rest of the body, normally has three flaps, or leaflets, that open to let blood flow out to the heart and then close to prevent blood from leaking backward into the heart from the aorta. A bicuspid aortic valve has only two leaflets.
If you have a bicuspid aortic valve, you may develop a narrowed or leaky aortic valve, but this may not occur until adulthood. A narrowed valve may make it difficult for blood to flow through the valve, and the heart has to work harder to pump blood through a narrowed valve. In other cases, the valve may leak so that blood goes backwards from the aorta into the heart. Over time, this can cause the heart to enlarge and work harder to compensate for the leaking valve.
In many people with a bicuspid aortic valve, the aorta is also abnormal and may enlarge or stretch out over time, putting them at risk for aortic aneurysms and rupture.
What Causes Bicuspid Aortic Valve?
A bicuspid aortic valve occurs during fetal development. This heart defect may occur more commonly in some families. If bicuspid aortic valve runs in your family, you may want to have genetic testing.