Structural Heart & Valve Disease

Structural heart and valve disease is a condition that involves problems with the tissues or valves in the heart. The heart has four valves, and each one has flaps of tissue that open and close with every heartbeat. The flaps make sure blood flows in the right direction. When one or more valves doesn’t open fully or lets blood leak back into the heart chambers, it makes the heart work harder and reduces its ability to pump blood. This can lead to serious health issues.

Structural heart and valve problems often are present at birth (congenital) but also can be caused by infection, heart disease, or heart attack. The condition may have no symptoms and cause no problems, but treatment is needed in other cases. When symptoms are present, they can include chest pain or tightening, shortness of breath, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, leg cramps, migraine headaches, and stroke (including transient ischemic attack, also known as a TIA or mini-stroke).

Why UAB

The UAB Structural Heart & Valve Program is the oldest and largest program of its kind in Alabama. It provides ongoing care – sometimes for life – to patients who have or are at risk for structural heart and valve disease. Our experienced surgeons and cardiologists take a comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating this condition, and their expertise ranges from traditional open-heart surgery to robotic-assisted valve repair and the latest in minimally invasive surgical techniques, which require only small incisions (cuts).

The UAB Structural Heart & Valve Clinic has achieved several important milestones in the past decade. In 2012, we performed the first transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) in Alabama, and UAB has performed more TAVR procedures than any other hospital in the state. As an added service, patients who have been told by non-UAB doctors that they need valve surgery can speak to a UAB structural heart and valve surgeon for a second opinion.

 

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