Structural Heart Program

Structural cardiology is a type of cardiology that focuses on treating defects in the heart’s structure including the valves, chambers, or muscles. In many cases, structural heart specialists and cardiac surgeons work together to provide the widest range of options for patients with structural heart disease.

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Structural Cardiology

Structural heart disease are defects in the heart’s structure including the valves, chambers, or muscles. Some of these structural heart defects are present at birth and others develop over time as patients age. Structural heart disease is different than coronary heart disease, which is a build up of a fatty substance called plaque. Structural heart disease is a physical problem with the heart that affects its ability to properly function.

In the past, most structural heart disease was traditionally treated with open surgeries. This is still necessary for some patients, but new minimally invasive procedures are providing improved options for many. These newer procedures offer less risk, faster recovery, and fewer complications.

Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion Device (WATCHMAN Device)

UPMC Western Maryland offers left atrial appendage closure with the Watchman device to treat patients with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat known as AF or AFib. The Watchman device is about the size of a quarter and is implanted into the left atrial appendage of the heart where blood clots often form. It creates a barrier to prevent blood clots from forming and escaping into the blood stream causing a stroke or other adverse events.

How is Watchman Implanted?

The Watchman device is implanted under general anesthesia and a very small narrow tube is inserted into the groin similar to a stent procedure. The Watchman device is then guided into the left atrial appendage of the heart by the tube. The procedure takes about an hour. Patients commonly stay in the hospital overnight and go home the next day.

Discuss the risks and benefits of the procedures with your Cardiologist

As with all surgeries, structural heart procedures all carry risks and benefits. Our teams will explain the procedure in detail and answer any questions before scheduling you for any structural heart procedure.