Structural Heart

Structural Heart

Structural heart disease is an abnormality to the formation of a patient's heart, including its valves, walls, or chambers. These defects could be present at birth (congenital) or develop over time.

At the Heart Center at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, we are proud to be at the forefront of interventional cardiology, as a regional leader in cardiac surgery and valve repair. With a team of specializing physicians, state-of-the-art technology, and award-winning attention to safety standards, our Heart Center is able to offer cutting-edge procedures that prioritize patient care and lead to quicker recovery.

Structural Heart Procedures

Structural heart disease does not need to be corrected in all situations, but certain patients may be at high risk for stroke or other life-threatening medical conditions, depending on their health history, age, and lifestyle habits. 

With the right doctors and advanced technology, these innovative procedures act as a one-time fix for conditions that would otherwise be lifelong problems. 

The structural heart procedures at the Heart Center are all cardiac catheterizations, meaning they are minimally invasive. This ensures a quicker, easier recovery, and allows our team to treat patients who are not ideal candidates for traditional open-heart surgeries. 

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR)

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally-invasive procedure used to treat aortic valve disease. This condition affects the heart's ability to pump oxygen-rich blood to the rest of the body, due to a narrowed heart valve. If untreated, this could lead to serious health problems, including heart failure. 

TAVR helps regulate changes in blood flow by using a small catheter to place a new aortic valve within the damaged heart valve. 


Left Atrial Appendage Closure (LAAC)

During a left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) procedure, an implant is placed in the area of the heart where blood clots commonly form. This is often a treatment option for patients with atrial fibrillation (AFib), who are more likely to form dangerous blood clots that put them at risk for life-threatening conditions such as heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism. 

Undergoing this procedure provides an alternative to taking a daily blood thinner and reduces a patient's stroke risk for life. Ideal candidates may have a history of certain heart conditions or be at-risk for negative reactions to blood thinning medications. 

To qualify for LAAC, patients must be able to receive warfarin for at least 45 days after the device has been implanted. 


Chronic Total Occlusion Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (CTO PCI)

Chronic total occlusion percutaneous coronary intervention (CTO PCI) restores regular blood flow to the major blood vessels that supply the heart. This minimally-invasive procedure is used to treat coronary artery disease (CAD), which causes severe blockages that occlude 99% or more of a blood vessel's opening, putting patients at a high health risk. 

The procedure involves threading a catheter up to the blockage and using it to transport a balloon – repeatedly inflated and deflated to widen the damaged vessel. A stent is then placed in the same area, to reinforce the already-widened shape of the vessel. 

Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) Procedure

This procedure is performed to correct an existing patent foramen ovale (PFO). A PFO is essentially a hole between the chambers of the heart, which allows blood to leak from the right side to the left. 

Despite how this may sound, PFOs are generally not problematic and often do not present any symptoms. However, they do provide an open road for blood clots – rather than being filtered out in the lungs, a clot may travel to the brain and cause a stroke. To correct a PFO and reduce the risk of it causing another stroke, a special implant is placed that stops up the hole in the heart. 


The Heart Center at Mercy Hospital

The structural heart program of the Heart Center at Mercy Hospital is a natural extension of our team's focus on our patients and their commitment to redefining the scope of treatment for cardiac conditions.

With a multi-disciplinary team that specializes in interventional cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, internal medicine, and electrophysiology, we know that it all comes back to being able to provide the right care for our patients.

Recognized for successful recoveries, our quality of care, and high-performance ability, here are some of the recent distinctions awarded to our program:

  • Named a High-Performing Hospital for Heart Attack Care by U.S. News & World Report for the reporting period 2022-23
  • Presented the American Heart Association’s Mission Lifeline Gold Quality Achievement Award in Heart Attack Care (NSTEMI), 2021
  • A three-star national quality rating (the highest award in this system) from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) for its patient care and outcomes in coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG)
  • Designated by Blue Cross Blue Shield as a Blue Distinction Center+ for providing a full range of cardiac services while demonstrating better quality care and improved patient outcomes
  • First heart center in Western New York to adapt and perform the procedure for PFO closure, an active response to high risk for stroke