Structural Heart Program
Listen to your mother: don’t give your heart to just anyone.
At Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, your heart health is our number one priority. Our cardiologists, structural heart specialists, cardiothoracic surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other specialists have joined forces to create a partnership approach to provide exceptional care focused on getting patients back to the lives they love.
Together, our team combines years of education, training, and experience with advanced medical techniques and sophisticated technologies in a patient-centered environment. Shared decision-making with open communication between team members, patients and their families, and referring health care providers are important keys to our successful patient outcomes.
What is structural heart disease?
Structural heart diseases involve the heart’s anatomy or “structures” — valves, chambers, walls, and pockets. When the heart’s parts are not shaped correctly or damaged, blood flow can be altered, and major complications such as stroke, heart failure, or sudden cardiac arrest can follow. Some of these conditions are present from birth, while others can be acquired later in life.
Until recently, the only way to treat moderate-to-severe structural heart disease was with open-chest surgery. Since the creation of our Structural Heart Program, we are proud to bring many recently approved medical advancements using minimally-invasive procedures and catheter-based interventions to the people of Maine.
To learn more about Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Structural Heart Program, call 207.973.8054.
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)
The idea of open heart surgery to replace an aortic valve can feel scary. Luckily for more and more patients, the less invasive TAVR heart procedure may be an option.
Unlike open heart surgery, in which an incision is made across the full length of your chest to remove the unhealthy valve, TAVR uses a catheter to implant a new valve within your diseased valve. TAVR can be performed in multiple ways but the most common is through an incision in the leg.
WATCHMAN offers an alternative to the lifelong use of warfarin for people with atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem, also known as non-valvular AFib. This permanent heart implant effectively reduces the risk of stroke—without the risk of bleeding that can come with the long-term use of warfarin, the most common blood thinner. What’s more, WATCHMAN can eliminate the regular blood tests and food-and-drink restrictions that come with warfarin (also known as Coumadin.)
Transcatheter mitral valve repair is catheter-based technology that uses a small clip attached to the mitral valve to treat mitral regurgitation. MitraClip allows the mitral valve to close more completely, helping to restore normal blood flow through the heart. It’s a less invasive treatment option for patients who are not good candidates for surgery, and has been shown to significantly reduce shortness of breath in patients with severe mitral regurgitation who may not be candidates for open surgical valve replacement.
In addition to offering a number of alternatives to open heart surgery, the Structural Heart Program also treats people suffering from heart defects, including ASD and PFO. Although both are holes in the wall of tissue (septum) between the left and right upper chambers of the heart (atria), their causes are quite different.
The EKOS endovascular system uses targeted ultrasonic waves in combination with clot-dissolving drugs to effectively dissolve blood clots. This minimally invasive approach speeds the time it takes a clot to dissolve, lowers the risk of bleeding and other complications, and dissolves clots without damaging vessels, valves, or walls. Other benefits include lower drug dosage and greater drug absorption.
Watch a video and learn more about EKOS here.
Contact us today to get help with your Structural Heart Program needs.