Structural Heart Procedures
What are Structural Heart Procedures?
Structural heart procedures are a range of advanced, minimally invasive interventions that treat abnormalities affecting the anatomical and functional components of the heart. These procedures play a crucial role in addressing conditions such as heart valve diseases, congenital heart defects, and other structural anomalies. By focusing on precise and innovative techniques, structural heart procedures offer patients safer alternatives to traditional open-heart surgeries, with reduced pain, shorter recovery times, and improved outcomes.
Structural heart procedures involve a variety of treatments, such as:
- Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) for aortic valve stenosis.
This procedure involves replacing a narrowed or leaking aortic valve with a new valve that is delivered through a catheter.
- Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) and Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) closures to repair abnormal openings in the heart.
These openings can allow blood to flow between the heart's upper chambers, which can lead to problems such as stroke.
- MitraClip for mitral valve regurgitation.
This procedure involves using a clip to repair a leaky mitral valve.
Risks VS Benefits of Structural Heart Procedures
Structural heart procedures provide valuable minimally invasive treatment options for patients with heart valve diseases, congenital heart defects, and other anatomical abnormalities. However, as with any medical intervention, these procedures also carry potential risks. Carefully weighing the benefits and risks with your cardiologist is key to determining if a structural heart procedure is appropriate for your condition.
Benefits of Structural Heart Procedures
- Minimally invasive
Structural heart procedures are minimally invasive, utilizing catheter-based techniques guided by imaging technology. This approach reduces the need for large incisions and extensive tissue manipulation, leading to faster recovery times, less pain, and a lower risk of complications.
- Improved heart function
These procedures aim to correct structural abnormalities, such as heart valve defects, allowing the heart to pump blood more effectively and efficiently. Improved heart function can lead to reduced symptoms, enhanced quality of life, and a decreased risk of cardiovascular complications.
- Customized treatment
Structural heart procedures can be tailored to each patient's unique condition and anatomy. Interventional cardiologists carefully assess the individual's needs and plan a personalized treatment approach, optimizing outcomes and long-term success.
- Shorter hospital stays
Many structural heart procedures are performed on an outpatient basis or require only a short hospital stay, enabling patients to return to their daily activities more quickly compared to traditional open-heart surgeries.
Risks of Structural Heart Procedures
As with any medical procedure, there is a risk of infection at the site of catheter insertion or other entry points. Proper sterile techniques and post-procedure care are crucial in minimizing this risk.
- Bleeding and bruising
Some patients may experience minor bleeding or bruising at the catheter insertion site. While typically not serious, patients should monitor the area and report any concerning symptoms to their healthcare provider.
- Allergic reactions
In rare cases, patients may have allergic reactions to the contrast dye used during the procedure or to the materials in the devices implanted. Proper pre-procedure screening and monitoring can help identify and manage any potential allergic reactions.
- Blood clots
The presence of implanted devices or catheters can increase the risk of blood clot formation. Anticoagulant medications may be prescribed to prevent clots and ensure proper blood flow.
- Device complications
Devices used in structural heart procedures, such as heart valves or occluders, may occasionally require repositioning or replacement due to unforeseen issues or improper fitting.
What to Expect Before, During, and After Structural Heart Procedures
Before a structural heart procedure, you will have an initial consultation to thoroughly evaluate your condition through examinations, lab tests, and imaging such as an echocardiogram, MRI, or CT scan. Your interventional cardiologist will discuss the risks and benefits of the procedure and whether it is an appropriate treatment option for you based on your health profile. You may need to stop taking certain blood-thinning medications in the days leading up to the procedure.
During the structural heart procedure, you will be under sedation or general anesthesia as the process typically takes 2-4 hours. The cardiologist will insert catheters and repair devices through small incisions in the groin or chest area, navigating them to the heart using live fluoroscopy and echocardiogram imaging guidance. The specific repair technique utilized will depend on the underlying structural issue being addressed. Throughout the procedure, your cardiologist will closely monitor your heart rhythm, blood pressure, and other vital signs.
After the structural heart procedure, you will stay in the hospital for 1-2 days for close monitoring during initial recovery. The incision site will be closed up and cared for based on provided instructions. It is common to experience some pain and fatigue as you recover. You will be prescribed medications to reduce infection risk and prevent blood clots. Follow-up appointments will be scheduled to evaluate the effectiveness of the repair and monitor your progress healing. Your doctor may also recommend certain lifestyle adjustments to support ongoing heart health. Here are a few other things to keep in mind post-procedure:
- You must monitor your incision site for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or drainage.
- You must report any unusual symptoms to your doctor, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or fever.
- You need to make sure you’re getting enough rest and staying hydrated.
- You need to consult your cardiologist about when to resume normal activities.
Am I a Candidate for Structural Heart Procedures?
Structural heart procedures are typically good options for patients who have a severe or sensitive condition that may not be great candidates for open surgeries. If you’re considering undergoing structural heart procedures, it is important to have realistic expectations. These procedures are not a cure for all heart conditions, and they may not completely eliminate your symptoms.
To assess your eligibility for structural heart procedures, your cardiologist will thoroughly examine the following factors:
- Your medical history
Your cardiologist will review your medical history to understand your overall health status, previous heart conditions, and any other relevant medical conditions.
- Diagnostic tests
Diagnostic imaging tests such as echocardiograms, CT scans, or cardiac catheterization may be conducted to evaluate the structural abnormalities in your heart.
- Severity of heart condition
The severity and extent of the structural heart condition will be assessed to determine the most appropriate treatment approach.
- Risk-benefit analysis
Your cardiologist will weigh the potential benefits of the procedure against the risks, considering your overall health and medical history.
- Age and overall health
Age and general health play a crucial role in deciding whether a structural heart procedure is appropriate for you.
- Other treatment options
Your cardiologist will explore alternative treatment options and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each option with you.
Improve Your Heart Health with Structural Heart Procedures
Watch the inspiring stories of our patients who overcame vascular challenges and achieved remarkable wellness and recovery with the help of our cardiovascular specialists.