Most common genetic heart valve abnormality associated with risk of aneurysm

May 14, 2014, St. Michael's Hospital
Dr. Subodh Verma, a cardiac surgeon at St. Michael's Hospital, said it's becoming increasingly clear that such people with bicuspid aortic valves may also be at a higher risk of developing aortic aneurysms. Credit: St. Michael's Hospital

The most common heart valve abnormality has now been linked to an increased risk of aneurysms.

Up to 2 per cent of the population has a genetic abnormality in which their aortic valve has only two cusps or hinges ensuring that oxygenated blood from the heart is directed to the rest of the body—a condition known as bicuspid aortic valve. Most people have three such cusps.

Physicians have known for years that many people with bicuspid may require in early adulthood to replace their aortic valve with an artificial valve. Bicupsid aortic valve is responsible for more deaths and complications than the combined effects of all other .

Dr. Subodh Verma, a at St. Michael's Hospital, said it's becoming increasingly clear that such people may also be at a higher risk of developing , which can lead to catastrophic complications such as (tear) and sudden death.

Dr. Verma published a review paper in the New England Journal of Medicine today providing new insights about the link between this and aneurysms, and advising patients and physicians about optimal screening and management of this potentially fatal condition.

In his paper, Dr. Verma also questions whether the aneurysms form because of genetic problems with the structure of the aorta or because of changes in the blood flow that cause excessive stress on the wall of the aorta.

The authors describe three patterns of aneurysm formation in such patients, and suggest that two of the most common patterns may not be genetic as previously thought.

Dr. Verma said that patients with a need to know that they are at risk of developing not just valve failure but an aortic aneurysm. If they do have dilatation of the aorta or an aneurysm they must seek the advice of a cardiologist or cardiac surgeon to help understand the timing and extent of surgery.

"These operations are complex and at times require not only stopping the heart but also ceasing blood supply to the brain," said Dr. Verma, who is also a scientist in the hospital's Keenan Research Centre for Biomedical Science. "Therefore, it is paramount that the risk of complications from the surgery be weighed against the risk of aneurysm rupture or dissection."

The authors suggest that once an aneurysm has developed patients should avoid strenuous activities that may increase blood pressure and cause the aneurysm to grow.

Many patients with bicuspid aortic valves will neither require surgery on their valve or their aorta, but will require routine surveillance with either an echocardiogram. Dr. Verma said close relatives of people with bicuspid aortic valves should also be screened to see if they have the condition.

Explore further: New imaging technique can diagnose common heart condition

Related Stories

New imaging technique can diagnose common heart condition

February 11, 2014
A new imaging technique for measuring blood flow in the heart and vessels can diagnose a common congenital heart abnormality, bicuspid aortic valve, and may lead to better prediction of complications.

Study examines risk of aortic complications among patients with common congenital heart valve defect

September 13, 2011
While the incidence of the life-threatening condition of aortic dissection is significantly higher than in the general population, it remains low among patients with the congenital heart defect, bicuspid aortic valve; however, ...

Gene variant raises risk for aortic tear and rupture

April 17, 2014
Researchers from Yale School of Medicine and Celera Diagnostics have confirmed the significance of a genetic variant that substantially increases the risk of a frequently fatal thoracic aortic dissection or full rupture. ...

The first biological heart valve implanted into a beating heart

December 20, 2013
A few days ago, the cardiac surgeons at the MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital achieved an absolute first: the first biological heart valve implanted into a beating heart was given to a male patient who had a leaky ...

Recommended for you

Starting periods before age of 12 linked to heightened risk of heart disease and stroke

January 15, 2018
Starting periods early—before the age of 12—is linked to a heightened risk of heart disease and stroke in later life, suggests an analysis of data from the UK Biobank study, published online in the journal Heart.

'Decorated' stem cells could offer targeted heart repair

January 10, 2018
Although cardiac stem cell therapy is a promising treatment for heart attack patients, directing the cells to the site of an injury - and getting them to stay there - remains challenging. In a new pilot study using an animal ...

Exercise is good for the heart, high blood pressure is bad—researchers find out why

January 10, 2018
When the heart is put under stress during exercise, it is considered healthy. Yet stress due to high blood pressure is bad for the heart. Why? And is this always the case? Researchers of the German Centre for Cardiovascular ...

Two simple tests could help to pinpoint cause of stroke

January 10, 2018
Detecting the cause of the deadliest form of stroke could be improved by a simple blood test added alongside a routine brain scan, research suggests.

Heart-muscle patches made with human cells improve heart attack recovery

January 10, 2018
Large, human cardiac-muscle patches created in the lab have been tested, for the first time, on large animals in a heart attack model. This clinically relevant approach showed that the patches significantly improved recovery ...

Place of residence linked to heart failure risk

January 9, 2018
Location. Location. Location.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.