Structural heart disease is any abnormality, or defect, of the heart muscle or the heart valves. You may have heard of congenital heart disease. This is any structural heart disease that is present at birth; that is, it occurs during the formation of the heart as a fetus develops.
Structural heart disease can also be acquired later in life. It may occur as a result of an infection in the heart, from damage during a heart attack, or because of decreased valve functioning with age. (Your heart has four valves that direct blood flow through each of the four chambers of your heart.)
Common types of structural heart disease include heart valve problems (valve leaking, or regurgitation, and valve stiffening, called stenosis) and defects in the septum - a wall of muscle separating the left side of the heart from the right side. If left untreated, severe forms of structural heart disease can eventually lead to heart failure.