Diagnosing Bicuspid Aortic Valve
Bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) is the most common congenital heart disorder, impacting both the aortic valve (which controls the flow of blood into the aorta) and the thoracic aorta (the major vessel that sends blood throughout the body). Approximately one to two percent of people have BAV, and in about nine percent of those cases the condition is hereditary, so family screening is important—especially because the majority of patients with BAV have no symptoms.
How is Bicuspid Aortic Valve Diagnosed?
Your primary care physician may make an initial diagnosis upon hearing a heart murmur during a physical examination. A heart murmur is an abnormal sound caused by turbulent blood flow across an abnormal valve, and may be caused by:
While most people with BAV experience no symptoms (less than five percent of BAV patients who are closely followed develop complications), those who do feel symptoms may have the following:
Echocardiograms and Bicuspid Aortic Valve
An echocardiogram (echo) is the most accurate way to confirm the diagnosis of BAV. An echo uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. An echo can also help identify complications including:
Team Approach to Treating Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease
We believe a multidisciplinary approach leads to more successful treatment of heart disease. Our expert team of cardiologists, cardiac surgeons, nurses, cardiac rehabilitation specialists, psychologists and social workers collaborate to help patients manage the disease. During your care, a dedicated nurse coordinator will follow your case and help coordinate the team.
Visit our BAV website
Download our free guide to learn how you can benefit from Northwestern’s Bicuspid Aortic Valve Program.
A Second Chance to Listen & Learn
Did you miss our BAV seminar? It is now available to view via video!
The ABCs of BAV
Advanced Diagnostic Tools
Northwestern’s Center for Translational Imaging offers patients with BAV access to advanced diagnostic technology. Tools like four-dimensional (4D) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CAT or CT scan) can help our team at the Bicuspid Aortic Valve Program identify complications from BAV and determine the best course of treatment.
Find out more about Northwestern's Bicuspid Aortic Valve program and download your free guide.
For more information regarding BAV or our Bicuspid Aortic Valve Program, please call the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 312-NM-HEART (664-3278) or request a first-time appointment online.
For more information regarding clinical trials related to BAV please visit the Clinical Trials Unit of Northwestern, send an e-mail or call 312-926-4000.