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When the valves and chambers in your heart aren’t working correctly, a specialized heart team with experience can make the difference.
Structural heart disease describes any defect with the anatomy of your heart or chambers. Whether it’s the valves that control blood flow, the chambers that make up your heart or a problem with the aorta, structural heart disease can lower your quality of life and put you at increased risk for potentially life-threatening heart health concerns, such as heart failure or stroke.
Some common structural heart problems include:
Although medications can sometimes be used to manage symptoms of structural heart problems, surgery or a minimally invasive procedure may be the best treatment option.
“This subset of heart disorders is very complex and requires a collaborative team approach to address effectively,” said Nezar Falluji, MD, MPH, FACC, FSCAI, board-certified interventional cardiologist with KentuckyOne Health Cardiology Associates–Lexington. “At KentuckyOne Health, we offer a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach. We combine the skills of interventional cardiologists, who specialize in structural heart disease, with those of cardiovascular surgeons to provide the best evidence-based pharmacologic, minimally invasive and surgical intervention care.”
If you are dealing with aortic valve stenosis (AVS), you know how exhausting the condition can be. For patients with severe AVS who are not ideal candidates for surgical replacement, implanting a prosthetic aortic valve using a minimally invasive approach saves lives and improves quality of life. This approach is known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR).
At Saint Joseph Hospital and Jewish Hospital, both part of KentuckyOne Health, physicians use a catheter to place the replacement valve within the old, damaged valve, almost like a stent. The new valve takes over, and normal blood flow is restored. At KentuckyOne Health, TAVR is performed under conscious sedation, which improves patients’ recoveries and decreases hospital length of stay.
“The quality of life prior to aortic valve replacement is poor, and patients with aortic valve stenosis can’t do any type of activity that requires exertion — climbing the stairs, walking more than a block or doing things they want to do become impossible,” said Michael Flaherty, MD, PhD, board-certified interventional cardiologist, associate professor of medicine and physiology at the University of Louisville and director of adult structural heart disease at Jewish Hospital.“Fixing the valve not only improves patients’ quality of life, but is lifesaving. All those limitations are gone. When we perform the replacement with a catheter and use conscious sedation, patients are up and walking around the day of the procedure and go home the next day.”
Patients with mitral valve regurgitation also face exhaustion, extreme fatigue and shortness of breath. If you have severe leakage but are not a candidate for surgery, the MitraClip system can help.
Available at Saint Joseph Hospital and Jewish Hospital, this system uses a nonsurgical puncture and a catheter to place a clip on the mitral valve. MitraClip allows the valve to close more completely, reducing the backflow of blood.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of One Health magazine. For more stories like this one, subscribe to One Health today.