If you have structural heart disease, abnormalities exist in your heart muscles, valves, or major blood vessels. These defects can affect heart function and blood flow. Some structural heart disease is congenital (present at birth), while other cases develop later in life, due to injury, infection, or aging.

The specialists at the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute are leaders in the field. We focus on routine and complex structural heart defects to offer you the full range of surgical and nonsurgical procedures that will help you best manage your condition.

Structural Heart Defects

  • Septal defects - The septum is the critical muscle wall separating the four chambers of your heart. It functions as a barrier that prevents blood from passing from one side of your heart to the other. Occasionally, holes or other abnormalities occur in the septum. These septal defects can be ventricular (located between the lower two chambers) or atrial (located between the upper two chambers).
  • Patent foramen ovale (PFO) - PFO is a common septal defect that happens when a naturally occurring opening between atria does not close after birth. It has been associated with stroke and migraine headache.
  • Valvular defects - Normal blood flow depends upon fully functioning heart valves. The mitral, aortic, tricuspid and pulmonary valves play a key role in the flow of blood through the heart. When the valves become hardened and narrow (stenotic), they cannot open fully, and blood flow is restricted. If the valves are unable to close completely (incompetent), blood flows in the opposite direction. In its most severe form, valvular disease can lead to congestive heart failure.

Major Blood Vessel Defects

The major blood vessels pump blood from the heart to the body and return the blood from the body back to the heart. Defects in these critical arteries and veins can prevent oxygen-rich blood from reaching the rest of the body. Conversely, these abnormalities can sometimes cause too much blood flow to the lungs. Major blood vessel defects can seriously affect heart function and overall health.


  • Closure Procedures - Our physicians perform atrial and ventricular septal defect closures and have vast expertise in performing patent foramen ovale (PFO) closures, when clinically indicated.¬†
  • Valve Repair or Valve Replacement - Valve repair reduces complications and the need for future medication. Our physicians perform the highest percentage of valve repair procedures in the area and can replace valves that cannot be repaired.¬†
  • Aortic Disease Management - Our physicians are skilled in both surgical and endovascular management of aortic disease. We treat the largest volume of patients with aortic disease in the area and strive to bring you the most minimally invasive procedures whenever possible.

Learn more about Heart Valve Disease Treatments.

Learn more about adult congenital heart disease.

Call Us Today

To find a heart specialist, call:

877-74-HEART (43278)