It's Heart Month, How Well Do You Know Yours?

Don't Attribute Simply Getting Older to New Health Symptoms-They May be Heart-Related

Author: Sherry Farney

Heart valve disease affects millions of Americans each year. Do you know if you have it? Maybe you’re attributing new symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, or shortness of breath to getting older, so you haven’t made your doctor aware of them yet. If you feel like something is wrong, don’t stay silent.

The good news is that treatment options for the four types of heart valve disease – stenosis, regurgitation, prolapse and atresia – are available, and patients do not have to travel far to receive the care they need.

In recent years, McLaren Flint’s structural heart program has made numerous minimally invasive atrial-fibrillation and valve replacement and repair procedures available, including transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), and Watchman. Structural refers to heart conditions a person was either born with or have developed due to aging. Examples of these conditions include the narrowing of one of the heart’s main valves, holes in the heart, and valves no longer closing properly.

“Our team is made up of cardiothoracic surgeons and interventional cardiologists specialized in structural heart techniques, which enables us to treat patients in need of any kind of heart procedure with very few exceptions,” said Sanjay Batra, MD, Director of Surgical Structural Heart at McLaren Flint.

McLaren Flint continues to offer more types of heart surgeries and procedures than any area hospital. The team of physicians and support staff has expertise related to a wide range of cardiovascular services, from prevention and advanced diagnostics to pre-and post-operative treatment.

The cardiothoracic surgeons and structural heart specialists have decades of combined experience performing high-risk surgeries, multiple valve procedures, complex repair cases, and the latest minimally invasive treatment options.

“Like the hospital’s cancer program, we also have a multi-disciplinary team that meets to discuss each patient’s case. This allows us to come up with an individual plan for that person, with the goal of having the best possible quality outcome,” said Dr. Batra. More and more, structural heart procedures are not open surgical procedures but instead are done using minimally invasive techniques. This means less pain and a quicker recovery for patients.

The procedures can be either replacements or repairs of the heart’s anatomy, using very small devices. Those devices are threaded through the body to the heart inside of catheters that most often are inserted through the patient’s groin. Once the devices make it to the heart, they are placed precisely where they need to be through a real-time view made possible with X-ray fluoroscopic and echocardiographic imaging.

All of that adds up to quicker recoveries for patients and the continuous rise of quality care.

“We have set the bar high and will continue to do so. Our patients and their families deserve it,” said Dr. Batra.

To meet McLaren’s heart experts or learn more about all the cardiac procedures offered close-to-home, visit