Structural Heart Disease

What Are Holes in the Heart?

Holes in the heart are simple congenital (kon-JEN-ih-tal) heart defects. Congenital heart defects are problems with the heart’s structure that are present at birth. These defects change the normal flow of blood through the heart.

The heart has two sides, separated by an inner wall called the septum. With each heartbeat, the right side of the heart receives oxygen-poor blood from the body and pumps it to the lungs. The left side of the heart receives oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumps it to the body.

The septum prevents mixing of blood between the two sides of the heart. However, some babies are born with holes in the upper or lower septum.

A hole in the septum between the heart’s two upper chambers is called an atrial septal defect (ASD). A hole in the septum between the heart’s two lower chambers is called a ventricular septal defect (VSD).

ASDs and VSDs allow blood to pass from the left side of the heart to the right side. Thus, oxygen-rich blood mixes with oxygen-poor blood. As a result, some oxygen-rich blood is pumped to the lungs instead of the body.

Over the past few decades, the diagnosis and treatment of ASDs and VSDs have greatly improved. Children who have simple congenital heart defects can survive to adulthood. They can live normal, active lives because their heart defects close on their own or have been repaired.

Treatments for Structural Heart Disease

We are now able to offer cutting-edge treatment for structural heart disease patients, which includes the minimally invasive procedures known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) and MitraClip in collaboration with cardiologists here locally in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

The TAVR procedure is for patients who suffer from aortic stenosis, a progressive disease that affects the aortic valve of the heart and often causes restrictions in routine activities. Initially, it was approved for patients who weren’t considered good candidates for traditional open-heart surgery due to poor health.

MitraClip™ is a simple procedure to fix a leaking mitral valve. Similar to an angiogram, a thin tube (catheter) is inserted in the vein of leg that reaches the heart. Through this catheter a small metal clip (MitraClip) is attached to the leaking mitral valve to close it more completely.

WATCHMAN is a one-time, minimally invasive procedure for people with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem (also known as non-valvuar AFib) who need an alternative to blood thinners.

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