An explanation of my condition and why I need surgery.

My first post is a brief history of my history with my condition.

My diagnosis is Bicuspid Aortic Valve and a 4.6cm Ascending Aortic Aneurysm.


Bicuspid Aortic Valve is present in 1-2% of the population with more than half of those being male. This makes this condition the most common heart defect. Not all patients with BAV need valve replacement, but those whose valves wear to the point where the heart might fail become candidates for aortic valve replacement. My heart experiences a symptom called regurgitation, where blood leaks back into the heart during each pump cycle. This makes the heart work harder which is indicated by an enlarged left ventricle. Some BAV patients have stenosis, or a narrowing of the valve opening. I do not have any stenosis. The aortic valve can be replaced with a biological valve (usually pig) or a mechanical valve. There are many types of procedures, all depending of surgeon and patient preference. Those who receive mechanical valves are required to take blood thinning medication to prevent blood platelets from sticking to the valve surface, which could cause clotting or a stroke.


Patients with BAV often develop an associated aneurysm at some point in their aortic artery. A thoracic aneurysm occurs when the tissue of the aorta artery becomes weakened and begins to balloon. My aneurysm occurs at the ascending portion, which is the part of the artery the immediately exits the heart and goes upwards. The peak is called the arch, and after the arch the aortic artery goes down, and is called descending. Often (and in my case), when open heart surgery is performed to replace the Bicuspid Aortic Valve, the surgeon will also fix the aneurysm.

My surgeon will replace my aortic valve with an On-X mechanical valve, and replace the ascending aortic aneurysm with tube graft. Below is the On-X valve and ascending aortic prosthesis.


Here is a fun video on how the surgery will go down (caution, blood & guts)!

8 thoughts on “Diagnosis

    1. Anthony DiLemme Post author

      No problem Paul! Im glad it might have helped. I actually just got an emergency replecement of my valve due to infection, and they repaired my aortic root and replaced the On-x valve with the St. Jude’s Mechanical valve.

      1. Laura Sergeant

        My 22 year old son just had biscupid aortic valve replacement (with root) using a St Jude valve. Thank you for posting your journey. I will be sharing your blog with him as he works through recovery!

  1. Thirza

    I am having this done on Tuesday … In four days. I am terrified. Thank you for taking the time to write your experiences down. It is taking all my brain reasoning to keep it together for my 17 month old daughter.

  2. Rob Krijthe, Netherlands


    I’m having surgery 28th of oktober . Same issue, scared as hell. Did a half marathon, a survivalrun and 12 k mud masters last month. Now I know my aortavalves are practicaly not working…

    Can choose between a mechanical and a bio . Bio means re-op. What to do?


    Rob, 40 years, the Netherlands

    1. Anthony DiLemme Post author

      This is a personal choice. I chose mechanical in the hopes of no re-op. I chose to take the risk of being on bloodthinners while rockclimbing and cycling. I wear a helmet and take calculated risks. I don’t do anything crazy, but I still am as adventurous as possible.

  3. Aida

    Hi Anthony, we support you with your decision as we chose a mechanical valve as well in hopes of no re-op since my husband was 43 years old at the time of the surgery. And after the surgery we are definitely hopeful that we don’t ever need to do this again.

    1. Anthony DiLemme Post author

      Thanks! Tell your husband to take good care of his teeth! My re-op was due to endocarditis from unknown origin. Possibly mouth. My procedure: listerine, wait 3 min, brush, floss, listerine again. Cheers!


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