Structural Heart Disease
If you have structural heart disease, a healthy heart is not something you take for granted. Whether your disease was present at birth or acquired later in life, excellent cardiovascular care can allow you to live life to the fullest.
Understanding structural heart disease
If you have structural heart disease, there are abnormalities in your heart muscles, valves or major blood vessels. These defects can affect heart function and blood flow. Some structural heart disease is congenital (present at birth), while other cases develop later in life, due to injury, infection or aging.
Types of structural heart disease
Structural heart defects fall into three main categories.
- Septal Defects – The septum is the critical muscle wall separating the four chambers of your heart. It functions as a barrier that prevents blood from passing from one side of your heart to the other. Occasionally, holes or other abnormalities occur in the septum. These septal defects can be ventricular (located between the lower two chambers) or atrial (located between the upper two chambers).
- Patent foramen ovale (PFO)is a common septal defect that happens when a naturally occurring opening between atria does not close after birth. It has been associated with stroke and migraine headache.
- Valvular Defects – Normal blood flow depends upon fully functioning heart valves. The mitral, aortic, tricuspid and pulmonary valves play a key role in the flow of blood through the heart. When the valves become hardened and narrow (stenotic), they cannot open fully, and blood flow is restricted. If the valves are unable to close completely (incompetent), blood flows in the opposite direction. In its most severe form, valvular disease can lead to congestive heart failure. Learn more about heart valve disease.
- Major Blood Vessel Defects – The major blood vessels pump blood from the heart to the body, and return the blood from the body back to the heart. Defects in these critical arteries and veins can prevent oxygen-rich blood from reaching the rest of the body. Conversely, these abnormalities can sometimes cause too much blood flow to the lungs. Major blood vessel defects can seriously affect heart function and overall health.
Structural heart disease treatment in Washington, D.C.
Our team of heart doctors at MedStar Heart Institute is a unique group of highly dedicated and experienced physicians. Our specialists focus on both routine and complex structural heart defects, and offer you the full range of both surgical and non-surgical procedures in order to manage your condition. And, as leaders in their fields of research, our physicians offer you state-of-the-art treatment options, including access to cutting-edge clinical trials.
Our doctors have expertise and experience in performing:
- Closure Procedures – Our physicians perform atrial and ventricular septal defect closures, and have vast expertise in performing Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) closures, when clinically indicated. Learn more about adult congenital heart disease.
- Valve Repair or Valve Replacement – Valve repair reduces complications and the need for future medication. Our physicians perform the highest percentage of valve repair procedures in the area, and can replace valves that cannot be repaired. Learn more about heart valve disease treatment.
- Aortic Disease Management – Our physicians are skilled in both surgical and endovascular management of aortic disease. We treat the largest volume of patients with aortic disease in the area, and strive to bring you the most minimally invasive procedures whenever possible. Learn more about the Center for Aortic Disease.
Cardiovascular Treatments and Procedures
The heart specialists at MedStar Heart Institute offer you the region's most active interventional cardiovascular program. Our physicians will create a treatment plan designed especially for you, whether your structural heart disease involves septal defects, valvular defects or abnormalities in the major blood vessels.
Where to go from here?Previous Topic: Center for Aortic Disease
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