Heart and Vascular Center

Structural Heart Disease Program

Many patients suffering from structural heart disease conditions, including those for whom surgery is considered too high risk, may be eligible for promising, life-altering therapies. St. Joseph Hospital is one of the highest volume providers in Southern California of progressive structural heart disease care. By introducing the most advanced technologies, we offer hope to younger, older and higher risk patients with congenital, acquired heart wall and valve diseases. Patients are increasingly referred to our Structural Heart Disease Program for evaluation, consultation and treatment.

Innovative Treatments


An estimated one in 10 people age 75 and older have moderate to severe mitral regurgitation (MR). The condition is often under-treated, placing patients at greater risk of developing heart failure. Eligible, high-risk patients who come to St. Joseph Hospital with a leaky mitral valve can opt for transcatheter mitral valve repair.

The MitraClip device, which is guided through the femoral vein to the heart, clips the mitral valve together to improve mitral regurgitation. The main benefits of MitraClip include:

  • Quicker recovery
  • Reduced heart-failure-related symptoms in more than 90 percent of patients
  • Reduction in hospitalizations due to heart failure
  • Improved quality of life
  • Reduction in heart size

St. Joseph Hospital’s heart specialists are among the first in Southern California to perform MitraClip procedures.

TAVR (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement)

St. Joseph Hospital is proud to be one of the first hospitals in Orange County to offer Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) for patients with aortic stenosis. TAVR is a minimally invasive, alternative treatment option for patients who are not candidates for open heart surgery. This treatment approach is FDA-approved for patients with intermediate to severe aortic stenosis.

During a TAVR procedure, the patient is placed under anesthesia and a small incision is made near the hip to access the femoral artery. A catheter is inserted and image-guided through the femoral artery to the heart. Next, a thin wire follows with a collapsible heart valve attached to a tiny balloon at the end. Once the valve is in place, the balloon is inflated and the new valve begins working immediately. The procedure typically lasts 1-2 hours.

There are many benefits of TAVR, including:

  • Minimal scarring at the incision site
  • Quicker recovery time (patients usually go home within one to two days)
  • Significant improvement of symptoms associated with aortic stenosis (patients typically experience immediate improvement in their quality of life after the procedure)


Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. AFib can cause blood to collect in left atrial appendage (LAA) and clot. If a blood clot escapes the LAA and travels to another part of the body, it can cut off the blood supply to the brain and result in a stroke. Patients who suffer from AFib typically rely on the long-term use of blood thinners to reduce their risk of stroke. The Watchman implant is the only alternative, FDA-approved treatment option that reduces the risk of stroke in patients with AFib not caused by a heart valve issue (non-valvular AFib).

The Watchman implant permanently closes off the LAA to prevent blood clots from escaping. During the procedure, the implant is inserted with a catheter through a small incision in the upper leg and is guided to the LAA of the heart. The procedure is done under general anesthesia and takes about an hour.

The Watchman implant offers many benefits, including:

  • Tiny, lightweight implant the size of a quarter
  • Shorter hospital stays (patients typically stay in the hospital overnight and leave the next day)
  • Quicker recovery time
  • Reduced stroke risk

St. Joseph Hospital is proud to be one of the first hospitals in Orange County to offer the Watchman implant as a treatment option for patients with non-valvular AFib.

Contact Us

For more information about our Structural Heart Disease Program, please call us at 714-744-8796.