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If you experience persistent shortness of breath, palpitations or dizziness, call your WellStar physician. However, if you experience severe chest pain, go to the emergency room immediately.

Structural Heart Disease Treatment

Currently, no medications can cure structural heart disease. However, lifestyle changes and medicines can often treat symptoms and delay complications for years. In time, surgery may be necessary to replace or repair the valve or atrial wall or other heart condition.

Taking Care of Structural Heart Disease with Medication

Your WellStar physician may prescribe a combination of medications if you have been diagnosed with structural heart disease. Some of these medicines include:

  • Antibiotics to prevent a recurrence of streptococcal infection in those who have had rheumatic fever
  • Blood thinners or Anticoagulant (Anti-clotting) drugs or antiplatelet therapy
  • Digoxin (Lanoxin®): This medication, also known as digitalis, may prevent episodes of congestive failure and control heart rhythm abnormalities.
  • Diuretics: Sometimes called “water pills,” these medications work on your kidneys to help your body eliminate sodium and water, thus reducing blood volume.
  • Beta-blockers: These medications reduce the heart’s workload and expand blood vessels, thus causing your heart to work slower with less force. These may include carvedilol (Coreg®), metoprolol (Lopressor®).
  • Calcium channel blockers: These may lower the pressure in the aorta, which the left ventricle has to pump against.

Taking Care of Structural Heart Disease with Surgery

In some cases, your WellStar physician may recommend surgery to correct defects in your heart or atrial wall or to repair or replace valves in your heart. Such a decision depends upon the severity of damage or defect, your age and health and whether other heart surgeries, such as a bypass, could be completed at the same time. Such surgeries include:

  • Balloon dilatation or valvuloplasty, in which a small balloon is inserted into a blood vessel with a thin tube (catheter) and threaded to the narrowed valve and then inflated. When inflated, the balloon pushes back deposits around the valve. The balloon is then deflated and removed from the valve.
  • PFO or ASD Closure
  • Valve Repair, in which your WellStar Cardiothoracic Surgeon may separate fused valve flaps, remove or reshape tissue so a valve can close tighter or add tissue to patch holes or tears to improve valve performance. This requires an open-heart surgical procedure.
  • Valve Replacement, in which your WellStar Cardiothoracic Surgeon removes the faulty valve and replaces it with a mechanical or biological tissue valve, i.e. bovine or porcine. This also requires an open-heart surgical procedure.
  • Atrial Appendage Occlusion Device, a treatment strategy designed to prevent blood clot formations