Monday, March 11, 2013

Bicuspid Aortic Valve Awareness Campaign


The calendar may say March, but it is still “Heart Month” at the Bicuspid Aortic Foundation. In fact, it is always Heart Month here! About every 7 minutes, someone in the United States is born with a bicuspid aortic valve in their heart. There is never a time when their hearts aren’t in the forefront of everything we do. Haven’t heard of a bicuspid aortic valve (BAV) before? A major part of our mission is to raise public awareness of BAV, the most common congenital heart defect, and its associated risks.

Bicuspid Aortic Valve

Awareness Campaign 

Laguna Niguel, CA (March 11, 2013) – 

Doug with his son, Grant
When Doug Grieshop left for work early that September morning in 2004, he had no inkling he would never walk through the door of his home again. He collapsed suddenly at work later that morning, and nothing could be done to save him. It was the day after his 33rd birthday. Doug was born with a bicuspid aortic valve, but he did not know it. He also did not know that he had an aortic aneurysm bulging dangerously just above his heart. If only he had known. If he had, it is highly likely he would have had successful surgery, like his cousin did, and still be with his family today.

Most people have not heard of a bicuspid aortic valve (BAV), but the Bicuspid Aortic Foundation is out to change that. It is common, existing in an estimated 1 in 50 people, and is more often found in males. Complications may happen when someone has BAV. They include the valve leaking and/or not opening properly, and the aorta bulging dangerously (aneurysm), tearing, or rupturing. There is also increased risk of infection in the heart (endocarditis), and some people may have a narrowing of the aorta called coarctation. Blood relatives of someone with BAV may also develop an aortic aneurysm in their chest, even if their aortic valve looks normal.

While the list of possible complications may sound frightening, everyone’s experience is different. Knowing about BAV can alert the entire family to be checked for BAV and/or aneurysms. For those who need it, there are excellent solutions to help them. The important thing is to get out in front and prevent any surprises, finding those at risk early so they can receive the care they need. Many with BAV are active, athletic, and talented, contributing a great deal to society. Finding BAV early and screening family members is important to help them continue their active, productive lives. Their lives should never be lost because of BAV.

Wondering if BAV could be in your own family, or that of someone you know? Since it is so common, it is very possible. Finding BAV and aneurysms saves lives! To learn more, please visit the Bicuspid Aortic Foundation website at . And tell a friend to check it out too. You may save someone’s life.

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