Structural Heart Disease

This information is useful for children and adults
A woman back to enjoying her favorite activity of tennis after having a serious heart problem treated.

Credit: Getty Images

If you are eating healthy and hitting the gym, you’re doing important work toward preventing coronary heart disease, which is caused by plaque buildup in the arteries that can cause chest pain and even heart attack. Structural heart disease is a different problem. It’s a term commonly used to describe defects or disorders in the heart’s structure—its valves, for instance.

A heart problem that is structural may be congenital, meaning it was present at birth, or it can result from aging or underlying diseases causing wear and tear on the heart later in life.

The good news is that treatments for structural heart disease are improving. While open heart surgery may still be the best solution in some cases, minimally invasive catheter-based therapies have made care easier on patients, with fewer complications and quicker recoveries.

“This is a field that’s rapidly developing,” says John Forrest, MD, a cardiologist and director of the Yale Medicine Structural Heart Disease Program. “By providing patients with therapies they otherwise wouldn’t be able to access, we can help improve not only their survival but also their quality of life.” 

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.