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Structural Heart

Your Heart's Roadmap

Your heart has four valves with tissue flaps that open and close with every heartbeat. These flaps act as a roadmap for the heart, guiding blood flow in the right direction through the four chambers of your heart and throughout your body. If a problem occurs with one of your heart valves, our team at the DMC is here to help you.

Although some people have heart valve defects they are born with or disease that has developed over time, they may not have symptoms or even any problems. In other cases, the heart valve problem may worsen and cause symptoms to develop. When left untreated, advanced heart valve disease can cause heart failure, stroke, blood clots, or even death.

Navigating Your Care

The Structural Heart/Valve Clinic at the DMC is designed to make your visit more efficient, saving you time away from work or home by making sure you can be seen by our entire team in just one day.

The Structural Heart Program at the DMC encompasses interventional technology as well as the latest in structural heart innovations. The variety of minimally-invasive treatment options gives patients a wide range of personalized choices with the ability to make an educated decision based on their specific diagnosis.

A patient navigator will make all the necessary appointments and schedule you with one of our cardiologists and a cardiovascular surgeon, who are skilled in some of the most innovative valve procedures, and work together to develop your personalized care plan.

What You Can Expect

A visit to the Valve Clinic might include reviewing any previous tests or imaging of your heart, or some new testing may be performed. There are various options for treating valve disease, and our team will discuss those with you. Surgery to fix or replace a faulty valve may be needed. If that is the case, we offer minimally invasive techniques to lessen pain and blood loss, and allow you to get back to your daily routine faster, with a healthier heart.

Heart Quiz

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More Information

Can You Prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) – when the heart unexpectedly stops beating – is important to treat within minutes. It is different than a heart attack, because a heart attack happens when blood flow is blocked, but the heart has not stopped beating. Immediate application of an automated external defibrillator (AED), found in many public locations, can be lifesaving.

Because the stakes are so high – life or death – let’s look at ways to prevent sudden cardiac arrest. How to prevent SCA depends on your risk factors – those who have already had SCA, those at high risk, and otherwise healthy people.

1. Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivors

People who have survived SCA are at high risk of having another one. Your doctor may recommend a procedure for an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), which:

  • Is surgically place under the skin in your chest or abdomen
  • Monitors your heartbeat
  • Provides an electric shock to restore normal rhythm if it detects a dangerous rhythm

2. High Risk Categories for Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Your doctor may prescribe a beta blocker, statin or other type of medication to help reduce your risk for cardiac arrest if you have the following conditions:

  • Ischemic heart disease and/or a recent heart attack
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease or a prior stroke
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • High blood pressure

Treatments for coronary heart disease, such as coronary angioplasty or artery bypass may also help lower your risk for SCA. A heart healthy lifestyle is recommended for all conditions. Talk with your doctor about the preventive recommendations that are best for you.

3. No Immediate Symptoms

A heart healthy lifestyle can help reduce risk for many conditions, including sudden cardiac arrest. Practice the following for optimal health:

Don’t Delay Care in an Emergency

Signs of a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest can be similar. Some people experience the following within an hour of SCA:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting (preceded by a racing heartbeat or feeling of dizziness/lightheaded)

If you suspect heart attack in yourself or a loved one, call 911 immediately.

National Institutes of Health