Structural Heart Diseases

When there is disease or damage affecting the valves, wall or muscle of the heart, this is known as structural heart disease. These conditions can be present at birth (congenital), or they can develop later in life as a result of wear and tear or infection.

When a heart is healthy, all four of its valves work together to pump blood and circulate it throughout the body. However, when structural heart disease is present, it drastically impacts the heart’s ability to function and can spur on serious health complications.

Why Choose The Heart Center of NGMC?

To provide the highest level of patient-centered care, The Heart Center of NGMC combines unparalleled expertise with groundbreaking techniques and state-of-the-art facilities to create the region’s leading Structural Heart Program.

At the core of our program is our multi-disciplinary team of experts, which encompasses doctors and surgeons from The Heart Center of NGMC, Northeast Georgia Physicians Group (NGPG) and Northeast Georgia Health System. Our multi-disciplinary team includes imaging specialists, interventional cardiologists, anesthesiologists and dedicated nursing staff, all anchored by NGPG’s renowned cardiovascular & thoracic surgeons. With decades of experience and wide breadth of expertise, our cardiovascular & thoracic surgeons help drive our Structural Heart Program forward and maximize results.

Structural Heart Diseases We Treat

With our comprehensive Structural Heart Program, The Heart Center of NGMC is able to treat a range of structural heart diseases, from some of the most common conditions to those that are more complicated or severe.

Mitral Valve Regurgitation

The mitral valve is located between your heart’s upper and lower left chambers. Its main role is to keep blood flowing in the right direction. However, when the mitral valve doesn’t fully close, it allows leakage or a backflow of blood.

Aortic Valve Stenosis

This is one of the most common and serious types of heart valve disease. The aortic valve is what allows blood to flow from your heart to the body’s main artery, the aorta. However, when this valve is stiffened or narrowed due to plaque build-up, known as aortic valve stenosis, it can limit blood flow to the entire body.

Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)

An atrial septal defect occurs when there is a hole in the wall separating the heart’s two upper chambers or atria. While this is a congenital condition, meaning it’s present at birth, it’s possible to go years without having any noticeable symptoms or effects.

Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO)

When an atrial septal defect is never detected or doesn’t close properly after birth, this is known as a patent foramen ovale. Like an ASD, many people never experience obvious signs or symptoms.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

This condition occurs when a portion of the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood. While hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is believe to be inherited, it often has no clear or obvious causes.

Atrial Fibrillation (valvular & non-valvular)

As a type of arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat, atrial fibrillation (AFib) occurs in the upper chambers of the heart and can cause blood to pool, rather than flowing to the rest of the heart. While AFib is typically treated by an electrophysiologist (a heart rhythm specialist), structural heart procedures may be used as part of a treatment plan.

Structural Heart Services at The Heart Center

By their very nature, structural heart diseases are extremely complex and require multi-faceted care that is equally complex. From innovative transcatheter and surgical procedures to device implantation, we ensure that every aspect of structural heart care is tailored to meet the distinct needs of each person and condition. Our interventional cardiologists, along with the entire multi-disciplinary team, bring an advanced skillset to every treatment we provide, including:


Historically, mitral valve repairs could only be successfully completed with open heart surgery. Now, using the MitraClip, cardiologists can effectively repair the mitral valve using minimally-invasive techniques. This tiny device – roughly the size of dime – is carefully attached to the mitral valve, allowing it to close more completely. This prevents leakage or backflow and restores healthy blood flow.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

A transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally-invasive procedure used to treat aortic valve stenosis. When a narrowing or blockage of the aortic valve occurs, a replacement valve is inserted to correct the opening and restore normal blood flow.

PFO/ASD Closures

Using a specialized catheter, a tiny closure device is guided to the heart and carefully placed to effectively close the hole caused by ASD/PFO. This special closure device creates a sandwich affect, covering both sides of the hole to close it completely. Over time, the heart is able to repair itself and grow new tissue over the closure device.

Alcohol Septal Ablation

This minimally-invasive procedure targets and reduces excess heart muscle caused by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Using a catheter, a controlled amount of high-concentration alcohol is delivered directly to the thickened portion of heart, killing off excess muscle and restoring normal blood flow.


Using a specially-designed catheter, a deflated balloon is guided to the stiffened heart valve, oftentimes caused by aortic valve stenosis. Once at the valve, the balloon reaches the valve, it is strategically inflated to push open the flaps of the affected valve. Once the valve opening is restored, the balloon is deflated and removed.


Also known as a left atrial appendage closure (LAAC), the Watchman is a specific device used in a LAAC procedure to reduce the risk of stroke associated with atrial fibrillation (AFib). Oftentimes, oral anticoagulation medications are used to treat AFib; however, this can increase the risk of stroke. Watchman is one of the most advanced types of LAAC procedures available.

Connect With Our Structural Heart Team!

Get started today by calling our dedicated Structural Heart Team with any questions you have or request an appointment: 770-219-5242. You can also email our team at