Heart and valve care in Chicagoland | Ascension
Male doctor talking to older white male patient about structural heart valve care

Heart and valve care in Chicagoland

Cardiologists and heart surgeons at Ascension Illinois in Chicagoland deliver advanced heart and valve care.

When you need advanced, specialized care for heart valve and structural heart conditions, Ascension Illinois delivers advanced diagnostics and imaging, minimally invasive therapies, surgical care, and rehabilitation support. From treatment through recovery, we provide personalized, compassionate heart care that’s right for you.

Your multidisciplinary care team brings together the expertise of cardiologists, cardiac imaging specialists, interventional cardiologists, heart failure specialists, heart rhythm specialists (electrophysiologists) and cardiac surgeons. We work together with you and for you, collaborating as part of a diverse multidisciplinary team. Your doctor starts by listening to better understand you and your health concerns. Then, we work with you to create a care plan that may include medication management, transcatheter treatment, heart surgery, and cardiac rehabilitation.

Choose Ascension Illinois for advanced heart and valve care

At Ascension Illinois, our structural heart and valve centers provide comprehensive heart care, close to home. Your doctor, heart specialists and care team work together to help diagnose, treat and support you, all at one location.

  • Advanced diagnostic imaging: Your heart specialist provides advanced diagnostic imaging and testing for complex heart conditions. We deliver full-service digital imaging that includes echocardiography (echo), electrocardiogram (EKG), nuclear stress testing, vascular ultrasound, cardiac computed tomography (CT) scans and angiography, and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Convenient heart care: Getting care for your heart sooner than later can make a big difference. At Ascension Illinois, we deliver prompt heart care — from medical therapies to minimally invasive and surgical procedures. Our heart care team provides specialized treatment and recovery options to help get you back to your daily life.
  • Heart care that focuses on the whole you: Your heart care team at Ascension Illinois supports you before, during and after your heart valve procedure. Your doctor works with you and your family to monitor your heart health over time, including connecting you with cardiac rehab and helping manage your medications to make sure they are working well for you.
  • Minimally invasive treatment options: Whenever possible, our team of heart specialists recommend minimally invasive procedures. Some of the procedures we provide include transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), MitraClip™, PFO closure, WATCHMAN™ and AMULET™ devices. Minimally invasive procedures may help shorten your recovery time and help lower your risk of complications.
  • Nationally recognized expertise in heart care: Ascension Illinois has been consistently recognized for its high standards and quality of care. Ascension Alexian Brothers was named one of America's 50 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Surgery three years in a row, and Ascension Resurrection was named one of America's 100 Best Hospitals for Coronary Intervention.

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Conditions we treat

Younger male doctor talking to older male patient about heart surgery

Aortic valve disease

The aortic valve regulates blood flow from the left side of your heart to your aorta and on to the rest of your body. The valve can become damaged and narrow (stenosis) or leak (regurgitation). This forces your heart to work harder and may lead to more serious conditions, such as heart failure or heart attack.

  • Symptoms of aortic valve disease
    • Chest pain
    • Dizziness
    • Fainting
    • Fatigue after activity
    • Leg swelling
    • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
    • Shortness of breath
    • Sudden weight gain
  • Types of aortic valve disease
    • Aortic valve insufficiency or regurgitation: Insufficiency or regurgitation occurs when the aortic valve does not close completely and blood leaks back into your heart (regurgitates).
    • Aortic valve stenosis: Stenosis is a narrowing of the heart valve caused by calcium or scar tissue. This can reduce your blood flow and increase the work of your heart.
  • Treatment options for aortic valve disease

    Treatment options for the aortic valve are based on your age, anatomy, health condition, and personal preference. Your doctor may recommend open-heart surgery, transcatheter therapies or other medical treatments. Heart valve specialists at Ascension Illinois provide a comprehensive evaluation to help you work with your doctor to choose the treatment option that’s right for you.

    • Aortic root enlargement: During aortic valve replacement surgery, this procedure may be needed to widen the aorta so that the right size valve can be placed.
    • Aortic root graft/aortic root replacement: Your doctor uses a graft containing a mechanical or biological valve to replace your damaged aortic valve and part of your aorta.
    • Balloon aortic valvuloplasty (BAV): A balloon is inflated inside your aortic valve to break up calcium and improve valve function. If you’re not eligible for open-heart surgery or TAVR, BAV may be an option for you.
    • Basilica procedure: Your doctor uses a minimally invasive procedure to split the leaflets of the aortic valve. Then, a new valve can be inserted without compromising flow to your coronary arteries. Ascension Alexian Brothers was the first hospital in the state to perform the Basilica procedure.
    • Clinical research trials: Clinical teams at Ascension Illinois participate in clinical research trials for aortic stenosis, coronary artery disease and other heart and vascular conditions. Talk with your heart specialist to see if a clinical trial is an option for your care.
    • Paravalvular leak closure: This is a non-surgical procedure where your doctor uses a plug-like device to close leaks near the aortic valve after surgical or transcatheter valve replacement.
    • Surgical aortic valve replacement (SAVR): SAVR is an open-heart surgery where your damaged aortic valve is removed and replaced with a mechanical or tissue valve. SAVR has been mainly used for the treatment of patients with aortic stenosis or insufficiency. In some cases, SAVR is combined with other cardiac surgery (i.e., coronary artery bypass graft for coronary artery disease).
    • Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR): With TAVR, the aortic valve is replaced through a catheter (a hollow plastic tube). The catheter can be inserted through the femoral artery in the groin, the neck (trans-carotid), chest wall (trans-apical), leg vein (trans-caval), or arm (trans-axillary). Minimally invasive procedures like TAVR may help shorten your recovery time and lower your risk of complications.
Doctor talking to a female patient.

Adult congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease develops before birth and affects the structure or function of your heart. If you have been diagnosed with a congenital heart condition, talk to your doctor about risk factors and treatments that are right for you.

  • Types of congenital heart disease
    • Atrial septal defect (ASD): The ASD is an abnormal connection (hole) located between the upper chambers of your heart (atria). If left untreated, ASD can increase blood pressure in your lungs and may lead to stroke or congestive heart failure.
    • Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA): The PDA is a connection located between the aorta and left pulmonary artery that should close shortly after birth. If the opening does not close and enlarges, you may experience increased blood pressure in the lungs and eventually, heart failure.
    • Patent foramen ovale (PFO): The PFO is a flap between the two top chambers of your heart. When a baby grows in the womb, they do not use their lungs and the flap allows blood from the placenta to flow to the baby’s organs. After birth, once the baby is able to breathe through their lungs, the flap is supposed to close. If not, and the PFO stays open into adulthood, you are at higher risk for stroke and other health complications.
    • Ventricular septal defect (VSD): The VSD is a hole located in the wall (septum) between the lower chambers of your heart (ventricles). VSD can be congenital or in rare cases, the result of heart attacks.
  • Treatment options for congenital heart disease
    • ASD, PDA and PFO closure: If you have a hole in your heart, your doctor may recommend a catheter-based procedure such as an ASD, PDA or PFO closure. A catheter is guided to your heart and closure devices, such as the Amplatzer Talisman™ PFO Occluder are used to close the opening.
    • Open-heart surgery: If a transcatheter procedure is not right for you, open-heart surgery may be an option to treat congenital heart problems in adult patients.
    • VSD closure: Depending on size and location, VSD can be managed with medication or through open-heart surgery. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive transcatheter procedure that uses closure devices such as the Amplatzer™ Muscular VSD Occluder or P.I. Muscular VSD Occluder.
Black female doctor talking to older female patient about heart failure and transplants

Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy

Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM) causes the muscles of your heart to thicken, making it harder to pump blood. This may lead to heart rhythm disorders or even cardiac arrest. For many people, HOCM is an inherited condition that shows very few or no symptoms at all.

Your heart specialist at Ascension Illinois may recommend alcohol septal ablation or surgical septal myectomy to treat HOCM. During alcohol septal ablation, your doctor uses a catheter to inject alcohol into a small heart artery (septal branch) to help shrink the thickened muscle. A septal myectomy is an open-heart surgery that removes a portion of the thickened heart muscle to help improve blood flow. Many patients with HOCM may need a defibrillator device to help treat heart arrhythmias.

Older white woman receiving therapy at Brighton Center for Recovery

Left atrial appendage

The left atrial appendage (LAA) is a small pocket near the upper left chamber of your heart. If you have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib), your doctor may recommend a closure device to seal this opening. By closing the LAA, patients are at lower risk for blood clots and potential stroke – without the long-term use of blood thinners.

LAA closure devices include the WATCHMAN and the Amplatzer Amulet™. If your doctor recommends open-heart surgery, the Atricure AtriClip device may also be used to close off your LAA.

Younger male doctor talking with female patient and her daughter general cardiology care

Mitral valve disease

The mitral valve separates the two left chambers of your heart and serves as a backstop to the main pumping chamber of your heart (the left ventricle). Mitral valve disease is a group of conditions where the valve has been damaged and no longer functions properly.

  • Symptoms of mitral valve disease
    • Congestive heart failure
    • Fatigue
    • Heart murmur
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Leg swelling
    • Shortness of breath
  • Types of mitral valve disease
    • Mitral valve insufficiency or regurgitation: Insufficiency or regurgitation occurs when your mitral valve does not close completely, and blood leaks backward inside your heart’s left atrium.
    • Mitral valve prolapse: Prolapse occurs when the mitral valve is too floppy and bulges into the atrium. This often causes the valve to leak and affects how your heart pumps.
    • Mitral valve stenosis: Stenosis is a narrowing of your mitral valve. The condition is often caused by old age, but mitral stenosis can also occur after throat infections in childhood (rheumatic fever). If left untreated, mitral valve stenosis may lead to heart failure.
  • Treatment options for mitral valve disease
    • Balloon mitral valvuloplasty (BMV): Your doctor uses a catheter to insert a balloon into the narrowed mitral valve. The balloon expands and restores mobility to the leaflets of the mitral valve allowing it to open more. If your doctor does not recommend transcatheter mitral valve repair, replacement or open-heart surgery, BMV may be an option for you. BMV is often used for the treatment of rheumatic mitral stenosis.
    • LAMPOON: This minimally invasive procedure uses a catheter to split one of the leaflets of the mitral valve, allowing for the safe placement of a transcatheter mitral valve.
    • Open mitral valve repair: Leaking mitral valves can be repaired by trimming the leaflets and tightening the valves with a special surgical ring. This procedure can be minimally invasive or performed through an incision in the breast bone (midline sternotomy).
    • Open mitral valve replacement: If your mitral valve is narrowed or leaking, your cardiac surgeon may replace it with a mechanical or biological valve through open-heart surgery. Minimally invasive surgical options are also available.
    • Paravalvular leak closure: During this non-surgical procedure, your interventional cardiologist uses a closure device to plug leaks around a surgical or transcatheter mitral valve.
    • Transcatheter edge-to-edge repair of the mitral valve (TEER): TEER is a minimally invasive procedure to treat leaky mitral valves. Small clip-like devices, such as the MitraClip and PASCAL Precision, are inserted through the femoral vein (groin area) and the heart, bringing together the leaflets of the mitral valve to reduce leakage.
    • Transcatheter mitral valve replacement (TMVR): TMVR is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a catheter to replace your narrowed or leaking mitral valve, restoring blood flow without open-heart surgery. Ascension Illinois heart valve specialists can tailor this procedure to your needs with techniques such as mitral valve-in-valve and mitral valve in ring (TMVIR).
Ascension Indiana St. Vincent cardiac surgery for structural heart and heart valve care

Tricuspid valve disease

Your tricuspid valve helps regulate blood flow between the two right chambers of your heart. When your tricuspid begins to leak or narrow, your heart is forced to work harder to push blood to the lungs. If left untreated, tricuspid valve disease can lead to congestive heart failure, liver and kidney failure.

  • Symptoms of tricuspid valve disease
    • Enlarged liver
    • Fatigue
    • Heart murmur
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Shortness of breath
    • Swelling in belly or legs
  • Types of tricuspid valve disease
    • Tricuspid valve insufficiency or regurgitation: When the tricuspid valve does not close completely, it causes blood to leak back into your heart’s right atrium.
    • Tricuspid valve stenosis: The narrowing of the tricuspid valve, which affects blood flow between the right atrium and right ventricle.
  • Treatment options for tricuspid valve disease
    At Ascension Illinois, our advanced heart failure specialists help manage tricuspid valve disease. If medication is no longer working, your doctor may recommend heart valve surgery.

Get a second opinion from a heart valve specialist

Get the confidence and peace of mind that your doctor and cardiovascular care plan are right for you. It's easy to get a second opinion at Ascension Illinois. We can review your medical records and healthcare history to answer your questions and discuss options. Talk with one of our doctors about a personalized heart care plan.

When you are facing a new diagnosis or are deciding on a surgical or therapeutic treatment plan, there’s a lot to think about. If you are looking for a second opinion for advanced heart care, our cardiologists can also connect you with the right specialists for minimally invasive surgery, including TAVR, MitraClip, WATCHMAN, and more. Our heart and vascular specialists can provide a second opinion, based on our experience and as part of a national care team.

Before your appointment, check with your insurance company to find out if a second opinion is covered. We can request your medical records on your behalf, so that they can be shared with your care team before your arrival.


Financial assistance and support is available

We can connect you with resources and programs that may be able to help you and your family with options for financial assistance. Our financial counseling team is here to listen to your concerns and work with you to help find options that meet your needs.

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Frequently asked questions about heart and valve

  • What is the most common type of heart disease?

    Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease in the United States. When plaque builds up within your artery walls, it can create a partial or total blockage. This condition decreases blood flow and can cause heart attack or another heart problem. Cardiologists at Ascension sites of care deliver advanced care for all types of heart conditions, including structural heart disorders that affect a heart valve, inflammation of the heart muscle and congenital heart conditions that affect the structures of the heart.

  • What is the difference between a cardiologist and interventional cardiologist?

    Cardiologists primarily diagnose and treat heart conditions with medications, but they may perform procedures such as cardiac catheterization or placing stents. An interventional cardiologist has the expertise to deliver catheter-based treatments for heart disease. To reach the heart, your doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube through an artery in the groin, arm or neck. This tube allows your doctor to check for partial or total blockages in the artery. During an angiogram catheterization, your doctor can also measure blood pressure within the heart and evaluate the blood flow through your heart’s chambers.

    Interventional cardiologists specialize in minimally invasive heart valve (TAVR and MitraClip™) replacement or valve repair.

    Minimally invasive surgery may be an option for your care with a goal of a shorter recovery time and lower risk of infection. If you need more advanced care, such as open-heart surgery, we’re with you through surgery, recovery and beyond. Together, your team of doctors deliver advanced heart and vascular care to help improve your heart function.

  • What are symptoms of heart valve disease?

    Heart valve disease can be caused by aging, infection or injury. You can also be diagnosed with congenital heart valve disease, meaning you were born with your condition. Common symptoms of heart valve disease include:

    • Chest pain
    • Fainting
    • Fatigue
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
    • Swelling in the ankles and legs

    Some people with heart valve disease experience no symptoms. If you are an older adult or have had other health conditions such as rheumatic fever, heart attack and arrhythmia, talk to your doctor about your risk for heart valve disease.

  • What are the signs of heart valve problems?

    Healthy heart valves can fully open and close with your heartbeat to allow blood to flow properly, but a diseased valve can not. Heart valve disease can develop over a short or long period of time. Some signs of a heart valve problem can include:

    • Chest pain
    • Dizziness or fainting
    • Fatigue
    • Fever
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Rapid weight gain
    • Shortness of breath
  • Can heart valve disease be treated?

    Advanced care for your heart valve condition may include therapeutic or surgical options. Heart surgeons at Ascension sites of care provide diagnostic tests and minimally invasive procedures such as TAVR (transcatheter aortic valve replacement). Your care plan may also include cardiac rehabilitation and follow-up care to get you back to your home, family and the activities you love. Talk to your doctor about what treatment options are right for you.

  • How do I find a heart valve specialist near me?

    Heart and valve problems can lead to heart attack or progressive heart failure, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about early treatment options. For some heart valve conditions, surgery may be recommended. Whenever possible, our national care team of heart specialists perform cardiac surgeries using minimally invasive techniques, which may help shorten your recovery time and lower your risk of complications. Find a heart specialist near you.