Georgia Heart Institute offers a wide range of treatments for structural heart problems, including congenital heart defects and valve conditions. These minimally invasive procedures are performed in a cardiac cath lab and can offer an alternative to open heart surgery.

What is structural heart disease?

When there is disease or damage affecting the valves, wall or muscle of the heart, this is known as structural heart disease. These conditions can be present at birth (congenital), or they can develop later in life because of wear and tear.


When a heart is healthy, all four of its valves work together to pump blood and circulate it throughout the body. However, when structural heart disease is present, it drastically impacts the heart’s ability to function and can spur on serious health complications.

Why Choose Georgia Heart Institute?

To provide the highest level of patient-centered care, Georgia Heart Institute combines unparalleled expertise with groundbreaking techniques and state-of-the-art facilities to create the region’s leading Structural Heart Program.

Unparalleled Expertise

At the core of our program is our multi-disciplinary team of experts, which encompasses specially trained doctors and nursing staff, renowned cardiothoracic surgeons and interventional cardiologists, who are pioneers in minimally invasive approaches, alongside our experts cardiac imaging specialists ensuring optimal patient work up and evaluation and dedicated patient navigator for our patients with structural heart conditions. Finally, we have a certified cardiac rehabilitation program that provides nutritional counseling, customized and clinically monitored exercise programs and long-term resources for a lifetime of heart health.

Personalized Care & Guidance

Ultimately, every patient’s journey is unique, and that is why we create a care plan for each of our patients that is as unique as they are. For our patients with structural heart diseases that may require more intensive treatments, whether it’s open-heart surgery or a minimally invasive procedure done in our cath lab, we review each case with a panel of international cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons to determine the best approach. Your care plan benefits from not just the incredible expertise of the doctors at Georgia Heart Institute, you can ensure that you have access to the most forward-thinking approaches available anywhere.

Structural Heart Diseases We Treat

With our comprehensive Structural Heart Program, Georgia Heart Institute is able to treat a range of structural heart diseases, from some of the most common conditions to those that are more complicated or severe.

Aortic Valve Stenosis

This is one of the most common and serious types of heart valve disease. The aortic valve is what allows blood to flow from your heart to the body’s main artery, the aorta. However, when this valve is stiffened or narrowed due to plaque build-up, known as aortic valve stenosis, it can limit blood flow to the entire body.

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Atrial Fibrillation (valvular & non-valvular)

As a type of arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, atrial fibrillation (AFib) occurs in the upper chambers of the heart and can cause blood to pool, rather than flowing to the rest of the heart. While AFib is typically treated by an electrophysiologist (a heart rhythm specialist), structural heart procedures may be used as part of a treatment plan.

Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)

An atrial septal defect occurs when there is a hole in the wall separating the heart’s two upper chambers or atria. While this is a congenital condition, meaning it’s present at birth, it’s possible to go years without having any noticeable symptoms or effects.

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Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

This condition occurs when a portion of the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood. While hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is considered to be inherited, it often has no clear or obvious causes.

Mitral Valve Regurgitation

The mitral valve is located between your heart’s upper and lower left chambers. Its main role is to keep blood flowing in the right direction. However, when the mitral valve doesn’t fully close, it allows leakage or a backflow of blood.

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Paravalvular Leak (PVL)

A rare, but serious complication related to the surgical replacement of mitral and aortic valves, large paravalvular leaks may require treatment. Patients with this condition may present signs of congestive heart failure or hemolytic anemia after having undergone a prosthetic valve replacement procedure.

Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)

When an interatrial septum doesn’t close properly at birth, this is known as a patent foramen ovale. Like an ASD, many people never experience obvious signs or symptoms.

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Structural Heart Treatments

By their very nature, structural heart diseases are extremely complex and require multi-faceted care that is equally complex. From innovative transcatheter and surgical procedures to device implantation, we ensure that every aspect of structural heart care is tailored to meet the distinct needs of each person and condition. Our interventional cardiologists, along with the entire multi-disciplinary team, bring an advanced skillset to every treatment we provide, including:

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

TAVR is a minimally invasive procedure used to treat aortic valve stenosis. When a narrowing or blockage of the aortic valve occurs, a replacement valve is inserted to correct the opening and restore normal blood flow.

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Transcatheter Mitral Valve Replacement (TMVR)

TMVR is a minimally-invasive procedure where a replacement mitral valve is inserted to correct mitral valve dysfunction or regurgitation. This procedure is typically offered for patients who have developed complications after mitral valve repair with a mitral annuloplasty ring and are considered high risk for repeat mitral valve surgery.

MitraClip

Historically, mitral valve repairs could only be successfully completed with open heart surgery. Now, using the MitraClip, cardiologists can effectively repair the mitral valve using minimally invasive techniques. This tiny device – roughly the size of dime – is carefully attached to the mitral valve, allowing it to close more completely. This prevents leakage or backflow and restores healthy blood flow.

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PFO/ASD Closures

Using a specialized catheter, a tiny closure device is guided to the heart and carefully placed to effectively close the hole caused by ASD/PFO. This special closure device creates a sandwich affect, covering both sides of the hole to close it completely. Over time, the heart is able to repair itself and grow new tissue over the closure device.

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Paravalvular Leak Repair

For patients with significant paravalvular leaks following a TAVR or TMVR procedure or valve surgery, we offer minimally invasive transcatheter paravalvular leak repair, a procedure with superior outcomes for patients where even the most complex leaks can be closed successfully. With the most advanced cardiovascular imaging technology and coordination through a multi-disciplinary panel of physicians, our team will determine the best and most effective treatment plan for long-term wellness.

Alcohol Septal Ablation

This minimally invasive procedure targets and reduces excess heart muscle caused by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Using a catheter, a controlled amount of high-concentration alcohol is delivered directly to the thickened portion of heart, killing off excess muscle and restoring normal blood flow.

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Valvuloplasty

sing a specially designed catheter, a deflated balloon is guided to the stiffened heart valve, oftentimes caused by aortic valve stenosis. Once at the valve, the balloon reaches the valve, it is strategically inflated to push open the flaps of the affected valve. Once the valve opening is restored, the balloon is deflated and removed.

Watchman

Also known as a left atrial appendage closure (LAAC), the Watchman is a specific device used in a LAAC procedure to reduce the risk of stroke associated with atrial fibrillation (AFib) for patients who are not able to take certain types of blood thinners. Oftentimes, oral anticoagulation medications are used to reduce risk of stroke in patients with AFib; however, this can increase the risk of bleeding. Watchman is one of the most advanced types of LAAC procedures available.

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