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“Did Ethan Have An Echocardiogram To Check For Bicuspid Aortic Valve?” Asks Cindy

Posted by Adam Pick on July 14th, 2012

As a follow-up to Wednesday’s post about Northwestern’s Bicuspid Aortic Valve Program, I received an interesting note from Cindy. She writes, “I was born with a bicuspid aortic valve and have already had valve replacement surgery. My question is, ‘Do my children need to be worried about inheriting this? Have you had Ethan checked?’”

Photo Of Young Boy On Jungle Gym
Ethan, My Son

Following my video interview with Dr. Patrick McCarthy (see below), Robyn and I were motivated to have Ethan, my 3-year old son, checked for all forms of congenital valve defects. As you might imagine, Ethan was not a fan of having an echocardiogram. However, after promising Ethan a new Buzz Lightyear toy, he settled down and let the technician successfully perform the 25-minute test.

The good news… After the exam, we learned that there are no signs of any structural defects in Ethan’s heart. If you are curious, there is a genetic consideration specific to bicuspid aortic valve disease. To learn more, I spoke with Dr. McCarthy about this topic.

During this interview, Dr. McCarthy shared with me, “The data now is that about 1 out of 4 it runs in a family, so about 25%.  And 75% therefore, it doesn’t; so it’s not that common.  But, when I talk to patients that have a bicuspid aortic valve, I always ask them, ‘Does it run in the family? Does your uncle, brother, or anyone like that have a bicuspid aortic valve?’.  It’s pretty common that you find a bicuspid aortic valve, or an aortic aneurism, because the two are related.”

I hope that helps Cindy (and perhaps you) learn a little more about the genetics and echocardiogram testing of children with bicuspid aortic valve parents.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick A dad, a husband and a patient, Adam Pick founded this website in 2006 to educate you about heart valve surgery from diagnosis to recovery.
You can get the latest updates about heart valve surgery from Adam at his Facebook, and Twitter pages. Click here to email him.


Carol Jackson says on July 16th, 2012 at 9:33 pm

I had heard from 2 doctors and also read that siblings and children should be checked for this. I had been putting it off to make an appt for my daughter. Today I was listening to this video while my 21 year old daughter was in the room and she suggested that she should have an echo done. Perfect timing! She will have an echo done in 2 weeks to find out whether she has a bicuspid aortic valve and/or aneurysm. Hopefully she does not have this problem.


Juli says on July 20th, 2012 at 2:23 pm

I too asked my cardiologists about this. I had tricuspid valve repair done 13 months ago for Ebsteins anomaly. My doctor said if my husband does not have a heart problem then it is VERY unlikely that our children would have it. He did seem very interested in having my 7 siblings checked for any issues. 3 of my siblings have minor issues but they do not have Ebsteins.


Katherine Mierzwa says on July 23rd, 2012 at 10:11 pm

I too was told that I was probably born with my bicuspid aortic valve. I had my surgery last Sept at Cleveland Clinic. My Doctor, Dr. Edward Soltesz, recommended that my children and my siblings be checked for this immediately. I think the echocardiogram should be the first test that anyone has if they are short of breath. It can be a life saver.


Melissa Peterson says on November 4th, 2012 at 5:44 pm

I will be having surgery to repair my aortic valve and aortic aneurysm in 2 weeks at the Cleveland Clinic. My mother had the same surgery when she was in her 50′s and my son had the same surgery in Minneapolis last year. So yes, it definitely can run in families!


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