I believe I mentioned in a previous post that I had had a few doctor's appointments recently. My doctor discovered a diastolic heart murmur and suggested that I have an echocardiogram. I went for the test several weeks ago and the technician(s) discovered the cause of the murmur and informed me that I have some aortic regurgitation. A few days ago, I visited the cardiologist to get the results of the test. He informed me that I will most likely need to have a valve replacement in ten years. I was born with a bicuspid valve rather than the normal tricuspid valve. It seems this has caused the valve to build up scar tissue due to the blood flowing over and around the edge of the valve "flap" and now it is not sealing well, thus causing the regurgitation. This irregular valve and forming of the aorta combined with my high blood pressure can also cause thinning of the aorta resulting in an increased risk of an aortic aneurysm. The doctor informed me that I should have yearly echocardiograms to keep an eye the progression of my valve problems. Keeping the blood pressure low, exercise and proper diet are also strongly recommended. I've got the blood pressure under control and so now I need to work on the exercise and diet. I feel good about keeping regular check-ups and I'm going to work at eliminating "the bad stuff" from my daily life. It will be good to get another test this coming year so we can map the progression if the issue. Yet another reason to simplify and return to the basics...
For more info:
The aortic valve is a one-way valve between the heart and the aorta, the main artery from the heart that distributes oxygen-rich blood to the body. Normally, the aortic valve has three small flaps or leaflets that open widely and close securely to regulate blood flow, allowing blood to flow from the heart to the aorta and preventing blood from flowing backwards into the heart.
In bicuspid aortic valve disease (BAVD), the valve has only two leaflets. 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.
Aortic regurgitation occurs when the valve does not close tightly after blood is pumped from the heart to the aorta. This allows some blood to leak back into the ventricle, thus preventing the heart from pumping blood efficiently to the rest of the body. This results in fatigue and shortness of breath. This condition may occur suddenly or it may develop over many years. Severe aortic regurgitation requires surgery to repair or replace the defective aortic valve.
The latest studies suggest that bicuspid aortic valve disease is caused by a connective tissue disorder that also causes other circulatory system problems. People with bicuspid aortic valve disease also may have abnormal coronary arteries, aortic aneurysm or an abnormal thoracic aorta (the portion of the aorta that passes through the upper chest) and unstable (labile) high blood pressure.