Heart of the Matter 


With ongoing investments in resources, advanced technologies and comprehensive services, South Texas Health System Clinics’ commitment to serving the healthcare needs of the Rio Grande Valley continues, as demonstrated with the opening of a new Structural Heart Program this fall spearheaded by board-certified interventional cardiologists Federico Azpurua, M.D. and Carlos D. Giraldo, M.D.

“We are excited to launch the program for our community … it offers more advanced and effective options for the treatment of structural heart disease, which unfortunately affects many living in the Rio Grande Valley,” Giraldo said.

Understanding Structural Heart Disease

As we age, our body changes. Similarly, age, illness, such as diabetes — a major risk factor for coronary artery disease (cholesterol buildup in the walls of the arteries), and lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking, lack of activity, and other factors can alter or damage the shape of the heart’s chambers. Structural heart disease, which usually affects older people, can lead to coronary artery disease and aortic valve stenosis (narrowing of the valve in the heart’s largest blood vessel, the aorta, making it not close properly). In both cases, blood flow is limited, forcing the heart to work harder to pump and supply blood to the rest of the body. This may cause angina and chest discomfort from which serious complications such as stroke, heart failure, or cardiac arrest (heart attack) can arise.

Advanced Technologies, Improved Outcomes

With the new Structural Heart Program at South Texas Health System Clinics Cardiology, physicians will be able to thoroughly evaluate patients and thereby better determine their next course of action. “We’re really excited to be rolling out a program that provides patients access to an advanced procedure called Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive treatment option for patients with severe aortic stenosis or those at high risk for surgery who had their aortic valve replaced in the past and are in need of a new one,” said Giraldo. Benefits of TAVR may include improved quality of life following the procedure, a shorter hospital stay, less pain, and minimal scarring, to name a few. Azpurua noted, “As with any procedure, patients should speak to their doctor to see if they are a candidate and understand that their commitment to recovering from cardiovascular disease will impact their outcomes.”

Taking Preventive Measures

According to Giraldo, “Some risk factors for heart disease are modifiable while others like age and family history are not.” All patients — including those with a family history of heart disease — can benefit from adopting a healthy lifestyle. For individuals who suffer from cardiovascular diseases or diabetes, Azpurua suggests implementing aggressive changes with respect to their diet. “Given the benefits of a low-carbohydrate diet, we recommend patients, particularly those with diabetes, follow a Mediterranean-style diet (olive oil, fruits, vegetables, tree nuts and fish),” he said. Significant and recommended changes in lifestyle also include stress management and getting a good night’s sleep. Both doctors emphasize the importance of seeking care and help when needed. Managing a cardiovascular issue in a controlled setting prior to an emergency is simpler than during a heart attack.

Dedicated and Specialized Cardiology Team

South Texas Health System Clinics Cardiology has built a quality reputation by delivering professional, comprehensive, personalized, and compassionate care. The physicians treat the following conditions:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart rhythm disorders
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Relative blood pressure
  • Structural/valvular heart disease
  • Venous disease

Azpurua, who has been with the organization for 7 years, states, “Our team is composed of highly trained and skilled cardiologists, each with his or her own niche and specialty. Case by case, we take an evidence-based approach to care.” Giraldo, who has worked with the cardiology team for nearly 9 years, agrees, adding, “We all care about our services and are committed to educating the community about heart health. Working together, we strive to achieve the best possible outcomes for our patients.”

To Make an Appointment:

Schedule online at sthsclinics.com or call 956-630-5522.

Physician referral may be required.

For more information, visit our website or call the number above.

Multiple Locations | New Patients Welcome | Virtual Visits Available 

For language assistance, disability accommodations and the non-discrimination notice, visit sthsclinics.com. Individual results may vary. There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Talk with your doctor about these risks to find out if minimally invasive surgery is right for you.

If you experience any of the following and/or have a family history of heart disease, speak to your doctor:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Shortness of breath with activity
  • Pain in legs while walking

In case of Emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

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