Structural heart disease treatments in Salt Lake City, Utah

Structural heart diseases refer to any of a range of heart problems, such as heart failure, within actual structures of the heart, such as the valves. These types of heart valve problems are some of the most complicated health conditions. Each issue is complex in its own ways and presents unique challenges depending on the patient. For these reasons, highly trained specialists are needed to treat structural heart problems. St. Mark's Hospital's doctors and surgeons have that level of training and expertise. They will develop a treatment plan that's right for you and will help you recover as quickly as possible.

For more information about St. Mark's Hospital's heart valve services, call us at (801) 268-7770.

Treating heart valve problems

We offer innovative structural heart procedures, including:

  • Left atrial appendage closure (LAAC)
  • Minimally invasive mitral valve repair
  • Septal defect closure (atrium septum closure) for children
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)

Our cardiovascular surgeons and clinicians will discuss the right treatment for you and determine whether a repair or replacement is the best way to help you. However, your treatment plan may change once your surgery has started. This is because some of the damage to your heart may be unpredictable until the surgeon can see what is inside. They will still do their best to prepare you and help you understand what to expect before and after your surgery.

Valve repair or replacement

There are three main ways to surgically treat a problematic heart valve:

Repair the valve

If possible, our surgeon will repair your damaged heart valve instead of replace it. Commonly, the repair involves improving the valve's size and shape. Another repair option is to change the tissue so leaflets can better open and close. If valve repair isn’t an option, the valve will be replaced.

Replace with a mechanical valve

Mechanical heart valves (made of metal or carbon) can last for decades. However, blood tends to stick to these valves, which can then form clots. For this reason, if you have a mechanical valve replacement, you’ll need to take a prescription medication for the rest of your life which will help prevent blood clots. This medication is typically a blood thinner, such as warfarin.

Replace with a tissue valve

A tissue valve is usually taken from a pig or cow. Because they are organic, blood does not easily clot on these valves. For this reason, medication to prevent blood clots may only be needed for a short amount of time after your tissue valve replacement. However, tissue valves do not last as long as mechanical valves. You may need further surgery or another replacement later on.

After your heart valve surgery

Structural heart surgeries are major procedures. After you are out of surgery, you’ll remain in the intensive care unit (ICU) for at least a day and in a general hospital room for five to six days. You’ll be given care instructions upon being discharged to go home. We also offer cardiac rehabilitation at many of our hospitals, which your doctor may recommend or prescribe to you to help further your recovery.

Recovering from heart valve surgery

Follow your discharge instructions, but call your healthcare provider if you experience any of the following during your recovery:

  • Changes in your incision, such as swelling, oozing, redness or tenderness
  • Clicking or grinding sounds or feelings in your breastbone
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fast, slow or skipping heart beats (palpitations)
  • Fever of 100 degrees or higher
  • Pain in your chest or shoulder that gets worse instead of better
  • Shortness of breath while resting or after only a little exertion
  • Swollen legs
  • Weight gain of more than two pounds in one day or five pounds in seven days

Risks of heart valve surgery

Most heart valve procedures have positive outcomes, however, any major surgery comes with risk. Talk to your surgeon about potential risks and benefits of your treatment.

Minimally invasive procedures

We also offer minimally invasive structural heart procedures, including mitral valve repair and left atrial appendage closure (LAAC). Benefits of minimally invasive surgery include a shorter recovery time, less pain and a shorter hospital stay.

Mitral valve repair

Mitral valve repair treats a condition called mitral regurgitation. This condition causes blood to flow back into the heart. During the mitral valve repair procedure, your doctor inserts a small clip into your heart to prevent leaks and reduce the amount of blood that flows back into the heart.


The LAAC procedure treats atrial fibrillation (AFib), a condition that affects your heart's rhythm. During the procedure, your doctor will insert a small device into your heart to permanently close off the left atrial appendage. This helps prevent blood clots and reduce your risk of a stroke.

Structural heart at MountainStar Healthcare

The structural heart program focuses on the surgical treatment of patients with heart disease and other vascular conditions. Surgical options may include repairing or replacing damaged valves through methods such as TAVR and SAVR.

Learn about Structural heart