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What We Treat

Severe aortic stenosis

Aortic stenosis is a common but serious valve disease that develops when the aortic valve opening becomes narrow due to calcium buildup or scarring. This restricts blood flow from the left ventricle to the aorta and makes it difficult for the heart to supply blood to the body. Many people do not experience symptoms until the blood flow is significantly restricted, indicating severe aortic stenosis.

Symptoms of severe aortic stenosis include (but are not limited to) chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and difficulty walking short distances or performing normal activities. A cardiologist may use an echocardiogram to help make the diagnosis and to monitor progression of disease. At the appropriate time, a patient is referred to a structural heart specialist to determine the best treatment option.

Holes in the interatrial septum

The interatrial septum is a thin wall of tissue that separates the left and right atria (the upper chambers of the heart). While the right atrium receives deoxygenated blood from the body, the left atrium receives oxygenated blood from the lungs. The atria pump blood into their corresponding left and right ventricles (the two lower chambers of the heart), which then move blood to different parts of the body.

Patent foramen ovale or an atrial septal defect are two types of holes that can be present in the interatrial septum. These holes may increase the workload of the heart and lungs and can lead to heart damage over time. Although both occur in the interatrial septum, their causes are quite different.

Patent foramen ovale

Every human fetus has a naturally occurring hole in the wall between the left and right atria of the heart called a foramen ovale that allows blood to bypass the fetal lungs until a newborn takes his or her first breath at delivery. In most people, the foramen ovale closes naturally within a few months after birth. A patent foramen ovale (PFO) occurs when the hole remains open, which can increase the risk for stroke.

PFOs are typically identified by non-invasive cardiologists who may order an ultrasound of the heart, transesophageal echo, or transthoracic echo with a bubble study for those who have experienced a transient ischemic attack (TIA, or mini stroke). After a PFO is diagnosed, the patient may be referred to a Capital Health interventional cardiologist for treatment.

Atrial septal defect

An atrial septal defect (ASD) occurs when septal tissue doesn’t form between the atria. An ASD is a congenital heart defect, which means it is present at birth. Although an ASD is present at birth, many people do not experience symptoms until they are adults. Symptoms may include fatigue, difficulty breathing with exercise, or a fast heartbeat or heart palpitations. An ASD is typically larger than a PFO.

General cardiologists may order one or more studies to diagnose an ASD and learn how it is affecting your heart and overall health. These include electrocardiography, chest X-ray, transthoracic echocardiography, transesophageal echocardiography, or intracardiac echocardiography. After an ASD is diagnosed, the patient may be referred to an interventional cardiologist for treatment.