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It's Topic Tuesday

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

Today is Topic Tuesday at Aortic Hope!

😊We would like to welcome you back to our weekly educational series. As always, we appreciate you being on this journey with us. If you have any topics you would like us to discuss in future segments, please drop a comment below!

👉This week, we share a link from Penn Medicine describing a very important (but often underdiscussed) risk factor for aortic dissections - Bicuspid aortic valves.

🤔To understand bicuspid valves, we first must do a quick recap of “normal” aortic valve shape and characteristics. In most adults, the aortic valve is “tricuspid” meaning it consists of 3 cusps/ leaflets, they are:

-The right coronary cusp (off which comes the right coronary artery)

-The left coronary cusp (off which comes the left coronary artery)

-The noncoronary cusp (no artery on this one!)

👉In bicuspid aortic valves, there is a fusion of two of the aortic cusps, causing a less effective valve from which blood can flow.

Bicuspid aortic valves are susceptible to many complications including leaking of blood (regurgitation) or premature narrowing (stenosis), both of which cause the heart to work more and lead to eventual congestive heart failure.

Overtime you may develop symptoms from bicuspid aortic valves including -

-Chest pain (angina)

-Fainting with exercise (syncope)

-Easy tiredness/fatigue

-Shortness of breath

👉Of particular interest, having a bicuspid aortic valve has been associated with an elevated risk for developing aortic root complications, including but not limited to aortic dissections and aortic aneurysms. 

👉The reasons behind this continue to be a topic of debate, although one theory is that there is a genetic link between bicuspid valves and connective tissue defects, including Marfan syndrome.

👉Despite being present at birth in nearly 1% of the world’s population, bicuspid aortic valves are often not diagnosed until serious symptoms occur. If suspected, doctors may diagnose a bicuspid aortic valve using high-quality imaging, such as echocardiography and CT scans. Be sure to inquire about testing if a family member of yours has ever been diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve.

Check out this link for more information -

See you next week, and until then remember to always Think Aorta! ~Adham

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