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What is structural heart disease?

Dr. Daniel P. O'Hair, MD
Cardiothoracic Surgeon

Structural heart disease can be a valvular condition or defect in a wall or chamber of the heart.

Atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the atrium of the heart, and patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a hole between the two atria. These defects are common structural heart disease conditions.

The most common valvular conditions are aortic stenosis, the narrowing of the aortic valve, and mitral valve prolapse, which means the mitral valve leaks.

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.

Structural heart disease is the treatment of vessels and blockages, as well as issues in the structure of the heart.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.