Heart & Blood Conditions

Expert reports about Heart & Blood Conditions


INFORMATION FOR WOMEN WHO HAVE A BICUSPID AORTIC VALVE DURING PREGNANCY OR BREASTFEEDING

 

What is a bicuspid aortic valve?

The aortic valve is the valve that regulates blood flow from the left ventricle of the heart to the aorta, the main artery of the body. In women of childbearing age, the aortic valve can malfunction, almost as frequently as the mitral valve (the valve regulating blood flow into the left atrium from the left ventricle) can malfunction. Aortic valve problems can be the result of rheumatic fever, a complication that can result when an infection with group A Streptococcus, the bacteria that causes strep throat, is not treated early enough with antibiotics. Mostly, however, and especially in developed countries where rheumatic fever is very rare, aortic valve problems in young women develop from congenital abnormalities in anatomical structure, essentially subtle malformations involving not just the aortic valve, but the aorta along with it. Normally, the aortic valve has three leaflets that separate and come together to regulate the passage of blood forward from the ventricle into the aorta and prevent the blood from flowing backward. However, if two of those leaflets fuse, then effectively the person has just two leaflets. This is called a biscuspid aortic valve (BAV). While such a valve can work just fine, it also makes the person prone to certain problems in the valve itself, in the aorta, and in the heart near the valve.


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