Valve and Structural Heart Disease Center

Conditions that affect your heart’s structure — such as aortic stenosis and mitral valve disease — are often referred to as structural heart disease.

We offer a wide range of procedures to repair or replace damaged valves and other structural heart problems. For many of our patients, open heart surgery would be too risky. Fortunately, we offer alternative options that are less invasive.

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Who Should See a Structural Heart Disease Specialist?

Our team treats people with all types of structural heart disease. This includes conditions that are present at birth (congenital) and those that develop later in life (degenerative). Our areas of expertise include:

  • Aortic regurgitation
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Atrial septal defect
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • Mitral valve regurgitation
  • Mitral stenosis
  • Paravalvular leak
  • Patent foramen ovale

Treatment can improve your quality of life by reducing symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath. It may also reduce your risk of complications associated with advanced structural heart disease. These include:

Comprehensive Structural Heart Disease Treatments

Today, most structural heart problems can be treated with either open heart surgery or minimally invasive procedures. Our structural heart disease program brings together cardiothoracic surgeons and interventional cardiologists who determine the best approach for you.

You and your doctor will decide which procedure is right for you based on several factors. These may include your age, the severity of your heart condition and what other medical conditions you have.

Heart Valve Replacement and Repair

If one of your heart valves doesn’t work properly, your doctor can either repair it or replace it. During a repair, your cardiologist mends and reinforces your existing valve. With replacement, you receive a bioprosthetic valve made from animal tissue.

We offer a wide range of valve procedures. These include “transcatheter” procedures that let us access your heart by inserting a thin, hollow tube (catheter) into a blood vessel, usually in your groin. Our areas of expertise include:

  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR.) We place a bioprosthetic aortic valve inside your diseased valve, relieving symptoms of aortic stenosis.
  • Transcatheter mitral valve repair. We attach a small, implanted clip to your mitral valve to help it close more completely. This helps reduce mitral regurgitation and restores normal blood flow through your heart.
  • Transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR.) We place a bioprosthetic valve inside your diseased valve, relieving symptoms of mitral valve stenosis.
  • Balloon valvuloplasty. We widen a stiff, narrowed heart valve by inflating a balloon inside the valve, expanding its walls and improving blood flow.
  • Paravalvular leak closure. In a small number of cases, we need to fix a complication associated with a previous heart valve replacement (called a paravalvular leak). It occurs when blood leaks through the space between the artificial valve and the original valve tissue.
  • Percutaneous valve-in-valve therapies. We replace a bioprosthetic valve that has degenerated by snugly inserting a new valve inside the old one.

Treatments for Other Types of Structural Heart Disease

We also treat structural heart conditions that don’t involve the valves, using the same transcatheter method. Procedures we offer include:

  • Atrial septal defect repair. We close a hole between the top two chambers of your heart.
  • Alcohol septal ablation. We inject alcohol into your heart to treat hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (an abnormally thick heart muscle.) The alcohol shrinks your heart muscle, improving blood flow.
  • Left atrial appendage closure. Using an implant called the WATCHMAN device, we seal off a part of your heart called the left atrial appendage. This reduces the risk of stroke among patients with atrial fibrillation (Afib) who cannot tolerate blood thinners.
  • Patent foramen ovale (PFO) closure. We seal an opening between the top two chambers of your heart that normally closes on its own soon after birth. This decreases stroke risk, which is higher in people with an open PFO.

Recovering From Your Procedure

The number of days you will need to stay in the hospital, and the length of time it will take you to fully recover and take part in normal activities, varies. In general, patients who have a minimally invasive treatment instead of open heart surgery recover more quickly.

A Team Approach to Treatment

Some people who have structural heart problems also have other cardiovascular conditions, such as coronary artery disease. Centra’s team includes many specialists who can help keep your heart and blood vessels as healthy as possible. If you have other medical problems that need treatment, we can refer you to doctors who specialize in those conditions.

Our integrated team includes:

Why Choose Centra for Structural Heart Disease Care?

If you need treatment for a structural heart problem, you want excellent care from an experienced team of specialists. Learn why so many people trust Centra to improve their heart health and quality of life:

  • We provide safe, effective mitral valve treatment. Among our patients who had transcatheter mitral valve repair or replacement — including procedures using the MitraClip device — more than 99% were healthy 30 days after their procedure (compared to the national average of 87.9%).
  • We can reduce stroke risk without side effects. Many people with Afib need to take blood thinners to prevent blood clots. While blood thinners reduce the risk of stroke, they can cause troubling side effects like dizziness and abnormal bleeding. Among our patients who have had a left atrial appendage closure (the WATCHMAN procedure,) 100% were able to stop taking blood thinners within six months.
  • We’re nationally recognized for the quality of our care. Lynchburg General Hospital has been named one of the 50 best cardiovascular hospitals in the country by IBM Watson Health. This independent ranking confirms that our performance — including complication rates and average length of stay following a procedure — is better than most.

There was very little pain and a very quick recovery [after receiving the WATCHMAN device]. I am glad I did the procedure. Going off my blood thinners gave me peace of mind that my Afib would be managed without the risk of bleeding.

Marilyn Singer , Structural Heart Disease Patient

Is Your Heart at Risk?

Knowing your cardiovascular risk factors can help prevent heart disease or catch it early, when it’s often easier to treat. Learn how to reduce your risk with our HeartAware survey.

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