Types of Aortic Valve Disease

Bicuspid aortic valve disease is the most common type of aortic valve abnormality.

Bicuspid aortic valve disease is a congenital condition(present at birth) and occurs in about two percent of the population. Instead of the normal three leaflets or cusps, the bicuspid aortic valve has only two. Without the third leaflet, the valve may be:

  • Well-functioning: Two-thirds of people who have this defect have a bicuspid valve that functions well for life
  • Stenotic: Stiff valves that can not open or close properly
  • Leaky (also called regurgitation): Not able close tightly

Other Congenital and acquired aortic valve abnormalities (such as rheumatic disease, infection or radiation) may also be present in younger patients, but are less common.

Patients with congenital or bicuspid aortic valve disease often do not require aortic valve surgery until they are adults. Younger patients usually have features of a leaking valve rather than a stenotic valve.

Normal aortic valve

Bicuspid aortic valve

Concerns about aortic valve surgery

Most adolescent and young adult patients are concerned about aortic valve surgery because they want to:

  • Maintain an active, normal lifestyle, including sports, travel, pregnancy, etc.
  • Avoid the use of anticoagulant medications (blood thinners), which some patients are required to take after valve surgery
  • Prevent the need for future surgery