Valve & Structural Heart Disease Care

If you were born with, or developed a heart valve disease, trust your care to the specialists at St. Mary's-Heart & Vascular Center in Duluth, MN or 32nd Avenue Clinic in Fargo, ND. We offer a comprehensive Structural Heart Disease Program. You can depend on our team to explain your options, answer your questions, and guide you through your health care journey.

What's Heart Valve Disease?

Your blood flow is controlled by four valves in your heart: the aortic, mitral, pulmonary, and tricuspid valves. If you have a heart valve disease, your valves are not working correctly and your heart has to work harder than it should. Some people are born with valve problems while others develop them as they get older.

Conditions We Treat

Essentia's heart specialists treat common heart valve diseases and structural heart conditions including:

  • Valve stenosis and regurgitation
  • Valve prolapse
  • Valve septal defects
  • Patent foramen ovale (PFO)

Sometimes, a valve and structural heart condition can lead to a heart rhythm disorder. You can count on Essentia’s team to treat the underlying problem, as well as any complications that may happen.

Meet Our Specialists

Non-Surgical Treatments

Your health care team will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that suits your goals and preferences. Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend regular monitoring or heart-healthy lifestyle habits to see if your condition changes or you develop symptoms before you try medications or a medical procedure to replace a valve in your heart.


You may be able to control symptoms or prevent complications of your valve or structural heart condition with medications. Your team at Essentia can provide comprehensive medication management services.

Surgical Treatments

Count on your doctors to help you determine if heart surgery is right for you. Your health care team may recommend:

  • Open heart surgery, such as surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR)
  • Minimally invasive mitral valve repair and replacement, which uses a MitraClip® device to repair a leaky mitral valve
  • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)
  • Surgical Mitral Valve Repair and Replacement
  • Aortic Root Surgery
  • Balloon Aortic Valvuloplasty (BAV)
  • Balloon Mitral Valvuloplasty
  • Left Arterial Appendage (LAA) closure with Watchman
  • Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) and Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) Closure
  • Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) Closure
  • Closure of Paravalvular Leaks
  • Endovascular Repair of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (EVAR)
  • Septal Ablation for Obstructive Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy


Atrial fibrillation, or AFib, is a type of arrhythmia where your heart beats irregularly. If you have AFib that isn’t caused by a heart valve problem, also called non-valvular AFib, your doctor may recommend getting a Watchman device instead of taking the blood thinners. A Watchman can reduce your risk of having a stroke.

Cardiology: Watchman Device Video Transcript

Dr. Kalkidan Bishu, interventional cardiologist, holds a complex heart model, using it to supplement his presentation.

DR. KALKIDAN BISHU: The problem with atrial fibrillation is that contraction in the upper chambers of the heart is so disorganized that sludge can form into a clot within the heart chambers. 90% of the strokes in atrial fibrillation come from sludge that forms within the left atrial appendage, which is a small cavity found in the left upper side of the heart.

Mary Starkman, C. N. P. , Heart and Vascular Center, speaks to the camera. She wears a white coat, and black stethoscope. She motions to her heart and she speaks.

MARY STARKMAN: The fact that you have an extra appendage like your appendix, that's like a little room off of the top part of the heart. That room is a pocket without a door, and within that room, a clot can form and then that clot can freely leave because there's nothing to stop it from leaving. So when I talk about putting the Watchman device in, which is essentially a plug to plug up that room, I tell them we're going to put a door on that room.

An animation plays of the procedure. The plug end expands to close off a portion of the vessel. Dr. Bishu holds the small, round device that represents the plug in the treatment.

DR. KALKIDAN BISHU: It's a device that is made of a metal frame covered by the mesh. A cloth pipe mesh. And what it does is that it excludes the part of the heart where clots form the atrial fibrillation and preventing from clots being spread into the body.

Team-Based Care

In addition to your primary care doctor, your valve and structural heart care team may include:

Make an Appointment

St. Mary’s (Duluth)-Heart & Vascular Center
Call 218-786-3443

32nd Avenue (Fargo)-Heart & Vascular Center
Call 701-364-2328

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