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Northwestern launches comprehensive program for patients with bicuspid aortic valve disease
Date:7/3/2012

CHICAGO Bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) disease is the most common congenital heart defect, occurring in approximately one to two percent of the population. The condition is present when the aortic valve, the valve that connects the heart to the main artery that distributes blood to the body, contains two leaflets instead of three, which open and close to regulate blood flow. As a result, the valve does not function properly, which can cause strain on the heart over time and may lead to serious health complications. Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute (BCVI) has been at the forefront of BAV research and treatment for years and recently launched a comprehensive program that brings together a multidisciplinary team of specialists experienced in the diagnosis and medical and surgical management of patients with BAV.

"Care for patients with bicuspid aortic valve is complex," said Patrick McCarthy, MD, director of Northwestern's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. "This program is the first to support a patient from A to Z, through screening, monitoring, family assessment, treatment and research."

One of the complications of BAV is when calcium deposits prematurely form on the valve flaps, causing the valve to stiffen and the opening narrows. This condition is known as aortic stenosis and may lead to shortness of breath, chest pain and blackout spells. A leaky valve may not close securely, causing blood to flow backwards into the heart. This regurgitation causes the heart to overwork, and the ventricle may enlarge causing heart failure. BAV can also be associated with ballooning of the aorta as it arises from the heart. Aneurysms of the ascending aorta can lead to life-threatening rupture if not treated in a timely fashion.

"Close monitoring of BAV patients is imperative in order to prevent life-threatening complications," said Jyothy Puthumana, MD, cardiologist and medical director of the Bicuspid Aortic Valve Progr
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Contact: Todd Medland
tmedland@nmh.org
312-926-0735
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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