BAV affects more than seven million people in North America, and 50 percent of them will require a life-saving intervention such as open-heart surgery. Popular TV and movie star John Ritter died at the age of 54 due to an aortic dissection. Just like most patients, Ritter didn’t know he had a flaw in his heart. People usually find out incidentally through tests for other medical conditions, or when there are aortic complications such as aneurysms or rupture.
Using 4D-Flow MRI for personalised treatment
Not all BAV patients are the same, yet they are currently treated the same when it comes to timing and extent of surgery, Fedak points out. The cardiac surgeon is also professor in the departments of Cardiac Sciences and Surgery and member of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta, Canada. “Through this study we can give clinicians and surgeons the tools they need to create precise, individualized treatment plans for patients.”
Better understanding of unique conditions
Phil Mittertreiner is a BAV patient who had surgery on his aorta done by Fedak to prevent it from rupturing. He was on a mountain bike ride this weekend and by coincidence all three male riders had BAV. “We were all very fortunate to have been diagnosed with BAV early in our lives. Mine required surgery, my two friends are fine for now. Because of the excellent care we received we are all able to ride hard, with confidence, worry free,” said Mittertreinder. “Unfortunately there are many others out there with BAV who are either completely unaware of the risks or who are living with significant life restrictions. This research should help remedy that.”
The NIH grant will allow for advanced tissue analysis for a large group of patients (450) over the next five years, the largest series in the world. Recruitment is already underway.