What is a bicuspid aortic valve?

Ask the Doctor

Q. My primary care doctor referred me to a cardiologist, and I just found out that I have a bicuspid aortic valve. What does that mean for me?

A. The aortic valve sits between the heart and the aorta, the main artery from the heart that distributes oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. A normal aortic valve has three leaflets, or flaps, that open and close tightly to regulate the flow of blood. But between 1% and 2% of people are born with an aortic valve that has only two flaps, known as a bicuspid valve. This defect is twice as common in males as in females and often runs in families.

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