Structural heart disease refers to a number of cardiovascular conditions that are different but related, because they are all the result of a similar problem – interruption of the natural flow of blood through the internal chambers and valves of the heart. Most structural heart disease is congenital in nature – due to birth defects – although it can occasionally develop later in life.
What are the most common types of structural heart disease?
- Atrial septal defect (ASD) – a hole in the wall (septum) that separates the heart’s two upper chambers.
- Patent foramen ovale (PFO) – similar to an ASD, a flap-like hole in the wall that separates the heart’s upper chambers.
- Coarctation of the aorta (aortic narrowing) – a narrowing of the blood vessel in the upper chest that carries blood from the heart to other parts of the body.
- Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy – thickening of the heart walls.
- Mitral regurgitation – weakening or stretching of the valve between the heart’s upper and lower left chambers that prevents it from closing properly.
- Valvular heart disease – congenital damage or defect affecting all four valves of the heart.
- Pericardial disease – abnormalities in the tissue and fluid sac that surrounds the heart
- Ventricular septal defect – a hole between the heart’s two lower chambers
How is structural heart disease diagnosed and treated?
According to Palm Beach cardiologists, some of these conditions produce no symptoms, while others produce symptoms so severe it can become impossible to lead a normal life. ASDs can cause heart palpitations, stroke, and exercise intolerance. PFOs can cause TIAs (transient ischemic attacks) and migraine headaches. Aortic narrowing can cause stroke, premature coronary artery disease, leg cramping, and high blood pressure in the arms and head, while BP remains low elsewhere in the body. Additional symptoms can include shortness of breath, dizziness, and chest tightness.
Diagnosis of structural heart disease is usually achieved via standard tests performed by your Delray Beach cardiologist during an examination. These tests can include chest X-rays, electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram, coronary catheterization, cardiac stress tests, and either computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Treatment can include surgery and minimally-invasive interventions to correct the defects.
What can I do to find out if I have structural heart disease?
Whether you have experienced any of the symptoms mentioned above or not, the best way to be sure is to contact some of the top cardiologists in Palm Beach at 561-515-0080 to schedule a checkup. The expert doctors at South Palm Cardiovascular Associates can then detect these conditions if they already exist. They can also identify risk factors for these conditions and reduce them before they cause problems that must be corrected using more drastic measures. Your SPCVA heart doctors in Palm Beach will work with you to prescribe diet and exercise programs to reduce your risk of all heart conditions.