Structural Heart Program

The Cardiac Partners Difference

At Cardiac Partners, our structural heart specialists consider your heart health our top priority. Our cardiologists, electrophysiologists, cardiac surgeons, and other specialists partner with advanced practice providers, such as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and physician assistants, to provide complete cardiac care. Our specialists have the education, training, and unrivaled experience with advanced medical techniques and technologies to provide the care that you expect. We are committed to providing our patients, families and caregivers, and referring health care providers with open and thorough communication.

What Is Structural Heart Disease?

Structural heart disease affects the heart’s anatomy, or structures, such as valves, chambers, walls, and pockets. An abnormality or defect that weakens the heart’s structure—its walls, valves, and muscles—is referred to as structural heart disease. A healthy heart has four valves that work together to move blood from the upper chambers to the lower chambers and eventually to the lungs and other organs. 

Any abnormality or damage to these valves can alter blood flow and lead to serious complications, such as stroke, heart failure, or sudden cardiac arrest.

Sometimes a defect is present from birth. Other heart problems are acquired later in life as a result of aging or underlying diseases that cause wear and tear on the heart.

Structural heart disease can include:
•    Valves that don’t open and close properly (aortic stenosis or mitral valve regurgitation). 
•    Abnormal openings between the heart chambers (ventricular septal defect). 
•    An open pocket in the upper left chamber (left atrial appendage) that can increase the risk of stroke for certain patients with atrial fibrillation.

Many of these diseases are progressive, which means that symptoms become more severe and complications are more likely to occur with age.

Innovative Structural Heart Services Provided by Cardiac Partners

Since the introduction of the Structural Heart Program, Cardiac Partners has led the way in clinical trials and approved medical advances with nonsurgical, minimally invasive, and catheter-based procedures for patients who have moderate to severe structural heart disease.

At Cardiac Partners, we offer a variety of options to treat structural heart disease:

  • Alcohol septal ablation, which treats hypertrophic cardiomyopathy with catheter-based technology.
  • Atrial septal defect transcatheter repair, which closes an opening between the heart’s upper chambers, the left and right atria, without surgery.
  • Balloon valvuloplasty, which uses a transcatheter approach to widen mitral heart valves that have become stiff or narrow. The procedure, which uses a catheter with an inflatable balloon, can be effective for children, teens, and young adults. For older adults who have a stiffened and narrowed valve (stenosis) as a result of atherosclerosis, valvuloplasty is generally used as a temporary measure until repair or replacement can be performed.
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement, which is the gold standard for replacing the aortic valve for patients who have severe aortic stenosis. In this procedure, a catheter is inserted into the leg or chest and guided to the heart.
  • The WATCHMAN device, which provides  a one-time, catheter-based intervention that can reduce the risk of stroke and may eliminate the need for blood-thinning medication for certain patients who have atrial fibrillation. This permanent implant device uses medically advanced technology to close off, or “plug,” the left atrial appendage, where blood clots can form. This procedure can prevent a stroke related to atrial fibrillation and eliminate the need for blood-thinning medication. 
  • MitraClip® transcatheter mitral valve repair, which is a catheter-based technology that uses a small clip attached to the mitral valve to treat degenerative mitral valve regurgitation. This device allows the mitral valve to close more completely, helping to restore normal blood flow. This treatment can be an option for patients who are not good candidates for surgery.