Treatments for Structural Heart Disease


The WATCHMAN is a device that is implanted into the Left Atrial Appendage (LAA), a small ear-shaped sac in the upper left heart chamber, in a one-time procedure. It is designed to permanently close off the LAA and keep blood clots from escaping. The WATCHMAN is about the size of a quarter and is made from very light, compact material commonly used in many other medical implants. This treatment could be ideal for those with atrial fibrillation who are considered to be at high risk for stroke, as well as patients with complications from blood thinner medications. Find out more about this innovative treatment here.

Paravalvular Leak Closure

This procedure involves inserting a catheter in the femoral vein in the groin (where upper thighs meet your abdomen). A wire is guided through the catheter to the upper left chamber of the heart, using a technique to enter through the septum (the muscular wall that divides the upper chambers of the heart into the right and left sides). A special catheter is used to place a closure device around the leak, functioning as a plug that stops the leak.

TAVR (Transcatheter Atrial Valve Repair)

This device may be the ideal treatment option for patients with severe aortic valve stenosis who are not surgical candidates. This procedure is performed through a groin puncture and a catheter which is used to deploy a device to replace the aortic valve. Open heart surgery is not required with this procedure.


This innovation is a minimally invasive procedure that may be an option for patients with degenerative mitral regurgitation (a condition in which the blood leaks back through the mitral valve) who are too sick for surgery. MitraClip therapy is the only mitral valve repair (TMVR) option to treat mitral regurgitation.

ASO/PFO Closure

Our heart specialists perform advanced surgery to treat congenital heart defects, including ASO (arterial switch operation, to correct the transposition of the great arteries), or PFO (a hole between chambers in the heart that may not have closed).

Peripheral Vascular Disease

Balloon Angioplasty

This procedure is also called a “Percutaneous Transluminal Coronary Angioplasty (PTCA)” and is a non-surgical procedure performed after a blocked or narrowed artery (due to deposits) has been identified in an angiogram. The procedure involves the insertion of a special catheter with a tiny balloon into a narrow heart artery. When the catheter reaches the blocked area, the balloon is inflated to flatten the deposits against the artery wall. As the artery is now wider, blood flow is improved.

Peripheral Angioplasty

When a blocked blood vessel is found outside the heart, a balloon angioplasty can be performed to open the blocked or narrowed blood vessel. A specialized catheter with a tiny balloon on the end is inserted into the blocked or narrowed vessel, flattening the deposits blocking blood flow against the vessel wall.

Stent Placement

A Stent is a small metal coil or slotted tube that is placed within a heart artery after an angiogram test has revealed a blockage or narrowed artery. The stent is designed to help support the arterial wall and push aside deposits. A catheter with a balloon is used to place a stent into an artery. When the balloon is inflated inside of the stent, the stent expands. The stent supports the arterial wall and aids in holding the artery open. The stent is a permanent implant that will remain in the artery.


At San Diego Cardiac Center, our subspecialists are focused on the electrical mechanics of the heart. Abnormal heart rhythms may require treatment with mechanical assistance (an implanted device) or an interventional procedure to correct the abnormal function, including:

Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)

This electrical device continuously monitors your heartbeat and is implanted just beneath the skin in the upper chest below the collarbone. When the device senses a dangerous rapid heart rhythm, it delivers one or more pulses or shocks to the heart to restore normal heart rhythm. An ICD may be a treatment following a cardiac arrest or a rapid heart rhythm problem that could lead to a cardiac arrest. An ICD can be a lifesaving medical device, and when in place, it could allow you much more freedom to participate in activities you enjoy.

Implantable Pacemaker

The pacemaker is an electronic device that monitors the heart’s electrical activity and delivers electrical pulses when the heart needs them. If it senses that the heart is beating too slowly or pauses for too long, the pacemaker stimulates the heart with precisely timed electrical pulses. The pacemaker is implanted into the body, usually under the skin in the upper chest just below the collarbone.

Catheter Ablation

Catheter ablation is a non-surgical technique to correct an abnormal electrical pathway in the heart that is causing an abnormally rapid heart rhythm. During this treatment, an electrode catheter is inserted into the heart. The catheter is positioned to be close to the abnormal electrical pathway. Radiofrequency energy passes through the catheter, heating up and removing small sections of heart tissue where the abnormal electrical pathway exists. When this treatment is successful, radio-frequency ablation can cure the problem of a rapid heart rhythm.

Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support

Our cardiologists at San Diego Cardiac Center assisted in initiating the Heart Transplant program at Sharp Memorial Hospital in 1985 and the mechanical circulatory support program in 1986. Since its inception, our transplant program has achieved outcomes higher than the national average.

Our team of experts, along with Sharp Healthcare transplant coordinators, medically manage heart transplant patients prior to and following their transplant. Our premier heart transplant program celebrated 25 years of providing care for the San Diego community in 2010. Patients who do not meet the criteria for a heart transplant may be referred to mechanical circulatory support. Since 1986, more than 500 patients have been supported with cardiac or pulmonary mechanical circulatory support systems at Sharp HealthCare.

Mechanical circulatory support systems are devices that keep the heart functioning in patients with life-threatening heart disease. Mechanical assist devices can be used to help a heart become stronger, as a temporary support tool until a patient can receive a heart transplant or as a permanent treatment.

We have a major commitment to clinical research and state-of-the-art care, publishing reports regularly in the medical literature. Our transplant patients celebrated the 25th anniversary of our transplant program, recounting their personal experiences. Channel 8 News featured this story – Transplant Patients Who Outlived the Odds.

Read More About Heart Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support

Heart Failure Program

Patients in our Heart Failure Program receive comprehensive outpatient treatment for their heart failure by cardiologists and a nurse practitioner who specializes in heart failure management.

Heart failure is a chronic condition in which symptoms are potentially recurrent and disabling. Aggressive outpatient care, including optimal medical management along with intensive patient education and monitoring, improves outcomes in this cardiac condition.

Our Heart Failure Program was started in 1998 and has resulted in a decrease of over 80% in repeat hospitalizations among the patients in our program.

The goals of the heart failure program include:

  • Optimize and individualize medical therapy.
  • Educate patients and families to provide a better understanding and management of heart failure. Our intensive patient education includes understanding the disease process, medication, symptom monitoring, diet, and activities.
  • Increase patient and family participation in the management of the patient’s heart failure.
  • Minimize symptoms, maximize the quality of life, and slow the progression of heart failure.
  • Decrease emergency department visits and hospital admissions.

We have initiated a bilingual website to help communicate information about heart failure to patients and their families –

Read More About Heart Failure

Coumadin Management

Patients on anticoagulation therapy receive frequent laboratory tests to monitor their therapy and visits with our registered nurse to ensure that proper blood coagulation levels are maintained. Our nurse will teach you about factors that may affect your blood coagulation and work with your cardiologist to adjust your medication when necessary.

At San Diego Cardiac Center, we are different. Within a 15-minute visit, you will have a pro time/INR blood test, test results, a visit with our nurse to verify your daily anticoagulation therapy doses, and schedule your next appointment. We make the visit to our clinic efficient and convenient.

San Diego Cardiac Center

Pacemaker and Implantable Cardiac Defibrillator Management

Just like other heart conditions that require close management, pacemakers and implantable cardiac defibrillators are no exception. Both devices are routinely checked to verify the sensing and pacing functions, verify program settings, and check the battery life. We are dedicated to helping you maintain your health and longevity with pacemaker and defibrillator management.

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San Diego Cardiac Center

Enhanced External Counter Pulsation (EECP)

A therapy available for patients experiencing angina or angina symptoms such as chest pain, chest discomfort, pressure, or other symptoms despite medical therapy, is EECP. This is a non-invasive therapy that involves treatment hour an hour a day for seven weeks. The therapy relieves angina symptoms by helping develop improved circulation and increased stamina, a higher tolerance for exercise, and improved quality of life. This treatment has proven to be effective in enhancing the quality of life in 75 to 80 percent of patients.

Learn More About EECP

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