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Congenital Valve Defects in Adults

heart valves

As blood leaves each chamber of the heart, it passes through a valve. There are four valves in your heart. They make sure that blood flows in only one direction through your heart.

Congenital valve defects are valves not formed correctly before birth. Valves may be the wrong size, have malformed leaflets or have leaflets that are not attached to the annulus correctly. This most often affects the aortic or pulmonic valve.

Bicuspid Aortic Valve

Bicuspid aortic valve disease is a congenital valve disease that affects the aortic valve. Instead of the normal three leaflets or cusps, the bicuspid aortic valve has only two.

Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease

Without the third leaflet, the valve may be:

  • stenotic - stiff valves that can not open or close properly
  • leaky - not able close tightly

This occurs more frequently in some family members. About 1/4 of patients may have some enlargement of the aorta above the valve. Bicuspid aortic valve disease affects about 2 percent of the population. Eighty-five percent of children with congenital aortic stenosis have a bicuspid aortic valve.

There are other types of congenital heart disease which affects the pulmonic, tricuspid and mitral valve, although these are very rare and most often treated in childhood.

How to find a doctor if you have congenital valve defect

Doctors vary in quality due to differences in training and experience; hospitals differ in the number of services available. The more complex your medical problem, the greater these differences in quality become and the more they matter.

Clearly, the doctor and hospital that you choose for complex, specialized medical care will have a direct impact on how well you do. To help you make this choice, read more about our Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute outcomes.

Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute cardiologists and surgeons
For younger patients

Resources

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Reviewed: 10/12

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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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