Structural Heart Disease

Structural heart disease refers to defects or abnormalities that affect the heart. Some structural problems are congenital, or present at birth. Structural heart disease can also develop later in life due to age, infections, or another health problem.

At the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cardiovascular Institute, we bring together leading experts in structural heart disease to provide you with optimal care. Our physicians specialize in catheter-based, minimally invasive heart surgery. This approach means a less painful, faster recovery for you.

Structural heart disease symptoms

In the early stages of structural heart disease, many people won’t experience any symptoms. As it progresses, however, common structural heart disease symptoms may include:

  • Chest pain.
  • Fatigue.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Irregular heartbeats.
  • Fainting.
  • Swelling of the abdomen, feet, or ankles.
  • Kidney dysfunction.

Structural heart disease diagnosis

Some structural heart disease cases are passed down genetically and some are acquired over time. As a person ages, it can be more difficult to diagnose unless symptoms are present. Sometimes a doctor can detect a problem, such as an abnormal heartbeat, by listening to your heart through a stethoscope during a physical exam. If your doctor suspects structural heart disease, several tests can be performed to confirm diagnosis, including:

  • MRI or echocardiogram for a detailed image of the heart.
  • A chest X-ray for a visual of the heart.
  • Electrocardiogram for a recording of the heart’s rhythms.
  • A catheterization procedure to identify if there are any blocked or narrowed blood vessels.

Types of structural heart disease

We treat a wide range of