Aortic Valve Disease - hereditary?
I have just found out that I am the fourth generation of my Father's family to have aortic valve disease. My Father, half uncle, grandfather, great uncle, and great grand mother all died from different complications of this condition. Is this hereditary, sure sounds like it to me. I have one sister with a murmur (no she has not had it checked out) and another that recently developed high blood pressure. She is getting an echo cardio-gram soon. I was diagnosed 22 years ago, and have not yet had to have surgery.
Must be in the genes
I don't know how many generations ours goes back, but we certainly have it throughout this generation and have been told it's hereditary. Aortic stenosis first showed up in my sister, seven years older than I. She was operated on 10 years ago and suggested the rest of us check. Turned out both my Mother and myself had it, though not my middle sister. Mine was asympomatic at the time, so a wait and see approach was adopted by the cardioloogist. My Mother was operated on several years ago at the age of 86, no less, and I turned symptomatic this summer (shortness of breath on increasingly modest levels of exertion). I am being operated in August, thoughs till weighing alternatives. (See related thread entitled "Making the choice..")
I assume this means that the condition was present in earlier generations on my Father's side (his brother died of unspecified heart disease), but I don't know for sure.
Should have said my "Mother's" side in that previous mesaage -- and I know even less about incidence there.
Is it hereditary?
All the doctors I've talked to have told me that my AVR was most likely a result of heredity. My father died at age 40 of his second heart attack (and he was a professional athlete). This was in 1957, before the diagnostic technology we have now was wide-spread. Heart disease was common in all the males in his family. Most likely I got my bicuspid valve from my father--who probably also had a bicuspid valve--although it was undetected in 1957.
As you read and research this issue, I think you'll find that genetics plays a strong role.
Glad you found our group. Let us know how we can help you. Take care ~
Thanks to both for your replies. This will help in getting my siblings to take the issue seriously. Especially the two youngest in my family (24 and 25, they think they are indestructable yet).
Peter, I read your post, and don't look forward to my turn at making the decision. I know my father always called his first replacement a "pigs valve", and it only lasted him five years (this was in 1980) he died after the second operation in 1985 while still in the ICU recoverying (same day as the surgery).
My situation became a bit more compilcated this year when I developed adult onset asthma (inherited from my mother's side). So shortness of breath was common for me until I got that under control.
I have an as-yet unoperated upon bicuspid aortic valve, and also a 2-year-old son. The doctors I have mentioned this to seem to think I needn't have my son checked out. Does anyone know if there are any statistics out there regarding Congenital Heart Defects and heredity?
Just to clarify a point that may be causing you needless worry.
When your father had his pig valve in '80, it would've been the old style stented valve, which were often put into older people because they didn't usually wear them out very quickly and it was a Coumadin-free solution. They rarely put these in younger people because they tend to wearout quickly. These days I'm not sure they even use the stented valves anymore. You never seem to hear of them. They were a common solution when I had my first surgery in '90.
There have been dramatic advances in tissue valves since then, among them the homograft and stentless porcine (pig) and bovine (cow) valves. These new tissue replacements vary from brand spanking new with little long term durability data to those that are proven to last at least a good decade. Many doctors believe some of these new valves will last 15-25+ years.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that you should try not to think of the tissue valves as a shortterm solution. The technology has improved dramatically since 1980.
Strep throat and heredity
Just back from a visit with another surgeon, this one Dr. Tomas Martin at Shands Hospital in Gainesville who has quite a track record and, in addition, is one of the US surgeons most involved at present in introduction of the Cryolife Synergraft valve, a new homograft alternative.
I was talking with him about the heredity issue, and he said that worldwide -- and particularly among people born before, say, 1950 or in areas where antibiotics are less available than they are presently in NOrth America, the biggest single cause of AS and related elements has been infant rheumatic fever. It might just be simple infant strep throat, cured by Mother's milk and "tincture of time," but the result typically was slight abnormalities in heart structure and function that later led to aortic valve degeneration.