The disease I chose to write on is bicuspid aortic valve disease. It is one that is near and dear to my heart since my mom has this disease. If the doctor were to write that someone had bicuspid aortic valve disease in someones chart, they would probably use the abbreviation BAVD. With this deformity, the valve doesn’t function perfectly, but it may function adequately for years without causing symptoms or obvious signs of a problem.(2015) You need a valve that works properly to have a cardiovascular system that functions like it should.
Those who have BAVD are born with it, though you are likely not to know you have it till adulthood. Eventually you valve can collect deposits that make the valve hard to function, this is called stenosis. As stenosis develops, the heart must pump increasingly harder to force the blood through the valve.(2015) If this does happen then you may feel short of breath when walking up the stairs and you should visit your cardiologist.
You may also feel as if the signs of BAVD are similar to the ones for a heart attack. My moms diagnosis started with her regular physician finding a heart murmur she didn’t know she had. You may also feel as though you may faint or look down at your feet and notice more than normal swelling. You may also feel as if though your heart is skipping a beat and not the good kind like when your in love. The actual cause of bicuspid aortic valve disease is not completely clear.(2015) About 2% of the population has BAVD, and it is twice as common in males as in females.(2015)
If you ever feel some of these symptoms, you should visit your primary care first. They will listen to your heart for any irregular pounding heart rhythm. If they feel as if they hear something they may send you for some tests. A test they would possibly send you for would be a heart ultrasound, also called a echocardiography. Other tests they may send your for would be an up close heart ultrasound, a CT or an MRI. For some those tests may sound familiar. Let’s talk about at least one of these tests. A transesophageal echo (TEE) test is a test given where they put a tube down your throat and in to you stomach to see your heart. This way nothing on the outside such as your ribs and lungs. This gives them a clearer picture of what they may be dealing with.
There are always complications that can arise but your doctor is there to help you navigate through those. One complication that may happen could be heart failure. The possibly of stenosis happening to your valve gives you are greater chance of your heart pumping less then it should. Another complication could be an aortic aneurysm, which my mother did get. What exactly is an aneurysm? This is where the wall stretches and eventually causes what might look like a bubble. The aneurysm can rupture or the inner and outer tissue layers of the aorta can shred apart (aortic dissection).(2015) Luckily my moms was caught and they watched it till they felt it needed to be repaired.
The treatment for BAVD is ultimately surgery. There is no magic pill you can take to make your valve function like it should, it is a deformity from birth. There are two different types of valves they can use to replace one that doesn’t function properly. In aortic valve replacement, your surgeon removes the damaged valve and replaces it with a mechanical valve or a valve made from cow, pig or human heart tissue (biological tissue valve).(2018) Which is chosen is up to the patient and recommendations from the doctor. My mom would choose the mechanical even though she would have to be on blood thinners the rest of her life. Those from something living will eventually deteriorate and have to be replaced again.
Medical terms pertaining to the heart and valve
aort/o = aorta
-ic = pertaining to
Pertaining to the aorta
cardio/o = heart
-ary = pertaining to
Pertaining to the heart
valvul/o = valve
-ar = pertaining to
Pertaining to the valve
Lets recap and look at things in a easier form. BAVD is when you are born with a type of heart deformity that affects how your heart pumps blood. Your doctor may hear a noise that is called a murmur and send you for some tests to make sure the uncommon noise he/she heard is ok. If the noise becomes a bigger problem like bicuspid aortic valve disease, it does mean you have to or are going to need to have surgery. It is based on each case, they don’t replace everyone’s valve. Though if you do you can choose from four different kinds and none are a wrong choice. You just need to make the choice that you feel happy with. This is why it is important to have a yearly physical, to rule out any heart or health problems.