Structural Heart and Valve

The Structural Heart and Valve program at Brookwood Baptist Health delivers a highly personalized, innovative approach to treating people throughout Central Alabama with heart valve disease and structural heart conditions.

A structural heart and valve disease diagnosis may seem scary at first. But our advanced treatment options at Brookwood Baptist Health may mean a healthier heart is possible. You have everything to gain from potentially having fewer symptoms to less work for your heart muscle.

Personalized Structural Cardiology Care, Close to Home

Brookwood Baptist Health offers treatment for structural heart and valve disease at three convenient locations: Brookwood Baptist Medical Center in Homewood, Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham and Shelby Baptist Medical Center in Alabaster. Our program utilizes the Heart Team approach which gives patients an individualized plan for care. This care plan is designed by specialists from cardiology, endovascular surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, interventional radiology and advanced cardiovascular imaging.

The Structural Heart & Valve program treats a wide range of conditions affecting the aortic, mitral and tricuspid valves, as well as the structure of the heart.

What Is Structural Heart Disease?

Structural heart disease is an umbrella term that refers to both valvular heart disease and any defect within the heart’s walls and muscle. Some structural heart diseases are present at birth, while the others develop later in life. This disease covers a large variety of heart conditions which include

  • Atrial septal defect
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Left atrial appendage
  • Left ventricular aneurysm
  • Paravalvular leak
  • Patent ductus arteriosus
  • Patent foramen ovale
  • Valvular heart disease (i.e., aortic stenosis, mitral stenosis, mitral regurgitation, etc.)
  • Ventricular septal defect

What Are the Symptoms of a Structural Heart and Valve Disease?

Individuals who are suffering from a structural heart disease may experience different symptoms depending on his or her condition. Some of the most common signs include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Chest tightness
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Fainting or lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Leg cramps
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stroke

Meanwhile, if you experience either a lack of oxygen or a fluid buildup in your tissues, you may be at a higher risk of suffering from heart failure. Some of the symptoms you may experience include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Coughing
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Memory lapses
  • Poor concentration
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen ankles, stomach, feet, fingers and lower back
  • Weight gain

What Causes Structural Heart and Valve Disease?

As mentioned, structural heart and valve disease is commonly congenital or present at birth. But for those who acquire it later in life, the cause may be any of the following:

  • Advanced high blood pressure
  • Aging
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Atherosclerosis in the aorta
  • Cancer treatments
  • Damaged or scarred tissue due to a heart attack
  • Drug use
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Rheumatic fever

What Are the Risk Factors for Structural Heart and Valve Disease?

Traditional Southern cooking isn’t heart friendly. In addition, heart valves get thicker and become stiffer as we age. These factors may increase a person’s risk for a structural heart and valve disease.

  • Diabetes
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Having two flaps on the aortic valve instead of three
  • High blood cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • History of infective endocarditis (IE)
  • Insulin resistance
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking

What Are the Complications Related to Structural Heart and Valve Disease?

It’s important to see a structural doctor as soon as you experience signs of a structural heart and valve disease as it may get worse and lead to the following complications or conditions:

  • Blood clots
  • Heart failure
  • Heart rhythm abnormalities
  • Stroke
  • Death

What Does a Structural Cardiologist Do?

A structural cardiologist, also known as an interventional cardiologist, is a cardiology doctor who spent one to two years of additional training and education in preventing, diagnosing and treating cardiovascular disease and structural heart conditions through catheter-based procedures, such as stenting and angioplasty.

When Is it Time to See a Structural Cardiologist?

Please schedule an appointment with one of our structural cardiologists as soon as you experience any symptom of a of a structural heart disease. Your doctor may recommend tests that may help properly diagnose your condition. Brookwood Baptist Health’s structural cardiologists treat patients from across Central Alabama – from West Jefferson to Leeds and Alabaster to Warrior and beyond.

How Does a Doctor Diagnose a Structural Heart and Valve Disease?

Your doctor may conduct any of the following tests to confirm if your symptoms are caused by a structural heart and valve disease. The following may also help your doctor identify the root of the disease:

  • Angiogram
  • Blood tests
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Chest x-ray
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Physical exam
  • Right heart catheterization
  • Stress test

What Are the Treatment Options for Structural Heart and Valve Disease?

Once you’ve been diagnosed with a structural heart and valve disease, your doctor may recommend healthy lifestyle changes, such as exercising, heart-healthy eating, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress and quitting smoking. You may also be advised to undergo any of the following treatment options depending on your condition:

  • Medications
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Ross procedure
  • Transcatheter valve therapy
  • Valve replacement through surgery

Meet Brookwood Baptist Health’s Structural Heart Coordinators

From the time you schedule an appointment to going through recovery, our structural heart coordinators are here to guide you every step of your journey. Our structural coordinators for each hospital:

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Sonia Scalf
Cardiovascular Manager: Non-Invasive/EKG and Structural Heart/Valve Clinic
Brookwood Baptist Medical Center: 205-877-2901

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Gretchen Cassavoy, RN, BSN, MSHCM
Structural Heart & WATCHMAN Program Manager
Princeton Baptist Medical Center: 205-783-3320

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Structural Heart and Valve Coordinator
Shelby Baptist Medical Center: 205-620-8794

To learn more about our structural heart and valve programs, please click any of the links below:

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