The infant may need surgery to repair a leaky or narrowed valve, if complications are severe.
A narrowed valve can also be opened through cardiac catheterization. A fine tube (catheter) is directed to the heart and into the narrow opening of the aortic valve. A balloon attached to the end of the tube is inflated, to make the opening of the valve larger.
Critically ill babies with a severely narrowed valve may need medications. These medications improve the baby’s condition so that either surgery or a balloon procedure is possible.
Medications may include:
- Drugs that make the heart muscle pump harder (inotropic agents)
- “Water pills” (diuretics)
High levels of LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) can build up on the inside of the abnormal valve and cause narrowing of the valve. Children with a bicuspid aortic valve should eat a low-cholesterol diet.
Children with a bicuspid aortic valve are more likely to develop an infection inside the heart (endocarditis). Therefore, they must take antibiotics before undergoing dental treatments. Some children may not be able to exercise or participate in strenuous activities because of the valve.
How well the baby does depends on whether complications of bicuspid aortic valve are present, and how severe they are.
The presence of other physical problems at birth also can affect how well a baby does.
Most babies with this condition have no symptoms, and the problem is not diagnosed until they are adults. Some people never find out that they have this problem.
Complications of bicuspid aortic valve include:
- Congestive heart failure
- Leakage of blood through the valve back into the heart
- Narrowing of the valve’s opening
Calling Your Health Care Provider
Call your health care provider if your baby:
- Has no appetite
- Has unusually pale or bluish skin
- Seems to tire easily
Review Date : 4/30/2008
Reviewed By : Mark A Fogel, MD, FACC, FAAP, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Radiology, Director of Cardiac MR, The Children’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaDivision of Cardiology, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.