5 Things You Need to Know About Structural Heart Disease

The heart is the source of life, so it’s important to keep it as healthy as possible. Unfortunately, researchers have estimated more than two million U.S. children and adults are currently living with Structural Heart Disease. Getting the facts about what it is and how you can treat it is crucial to living a longer and healthier life.

If you or a loved one were born with or have been diagnosed with Structural Heart Disease, take heart. You can take control by learning more about it today. Start with these five things you need to know about Structural Heart Disease:

  1. What is it? Structural Heart Disease refers to a condition in which a patient has a cardiac defect or abnormality, which compromises the integrity of the heart’s valves, vessels or chambers.

  2. Who gets it? Structural Heart Disease can be diagnosed at birth or later in life. Structural Heart Disease that is diagnosed at birth is commonly known as Congenital Heart Disease. This occurs when the heart has a problem in its structure while a fetus is developing. Structural Heart Disease can also occur later in life as a result of an infection, heart damage from a heart attack, or decreased valve function due to age. 1 in 8 people who are 75 years or older will experience at least a moderate form of this heart condition.

  3. What causes it? Congenital Heart Disease in newborns may be caused by problems with genes or chromosomes such as Down syndrome, medications, drugs or alcohol used during pregnancy, or a viral infection called rubella that the mother has during the first trimester of pregnancy.

    Individuals are at a higher risk of developing Structural Heart Disease if they have a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, lack of physical exercise and a family history of heart disease.

    In addition, infections and disorders that may lead to heart disease include rheumatic fever, endocarditis, carcinoid tumors, rheumatic arthritis, lupus and syphilis.

  4. What are the symptoms? Most people who are diagnosed with Structural Heart Disease later in life don’t experience symptoms during the early stages. However, once signs occur, the disease can develop quickly. Symptoms of Structural Heart Disease include an unusual heartbeat (heart murmur), irregular heartbeat, dizziness, fainting and rapid weight gain.

  5. How do you treat it? Many individuals living with Structural Heart Disease are considered inoperable or high-risk. But now there’s hope. Depending on the type of heart disease, there are new, minimally invasive alternatives for patients who may be inoperable. The Structural Heart Disease Program at Covenant Center for the Heart offers two emerging treatment options for inoperable or high-risk heart patients:
    • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) – a minimally invasive procedure for individuals who have a narrowing valve and need aortic valve replacement.
    • Watchman – a device implanted to close the left atrial appendage (LAA) to lower the risk for stroke.

In addition to the alternative options discussed, our extraordinary team also provides other services for our heart patients including:

  • Percutaneous Aortic and Mitral Valvuloplasty – This procedure uses a balloon to expand abnormally narrow heart valves.
  • Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) procedure – This is a catheter-based closure of atrial and ventricular wall defects (commonly known as a “hole” in the heart).
  • Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) procedure - A catheter is threaded through a blood vessel in the body up to the heart. A closure device is threaded through the catheter and placed into the ASD (an abnormal "hole" in the wall that separates the top two chambers of the heart ).

If you or your loved one is living with Structural Heart Disease, don’t lose heart. Now there’s hope for the highest risk patients close to home, with the first and most comprehensive Structural Heart Disease Program in the Great Lakes Bay Region. Our multidisciplinary team of experts works together to develop a treatment plan for every patient, so you can put your heart into living a better quality of life. Learn more at CovenantHealthCare.com/StructuralHeartDiseaseProgram.

Posted Date: 5/31/2016

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