Once your doctor has diagnosed valve disease, the course of treatment he or she recommends will usually depend on the severity of the defect.
Your course of treatment will depend on your specific condition, your age and several other factors; your doctor will explain your options and help you make an informed decision.
If you have mild valve disease, daily medications may be enough to treat it. If your doctor prescribes medication, it is extremely important to:
- Make any recommended lifestyle changes (especially lowering blood pressure) to protect the valve from further damage.
- Guard against bacterial infection of the valve (endocarditis) by:
- Preventing teeth and gum infections
- Immediately treating strep throat
- (for some patients) Taking antibiotics before undergoing dental or other surgical procedures that may cause bleeding and subsequent infection
Certain medications can reduce blood pressure and optimize heart pumping action to lessen stress on the heart and valves, including:
- Beta blockers
- Blood thinners
- Diuretics (water pills) to remove excess fluid buildup
- Anti-arrhythmic drugs to help restore the heart's normal rhythm
- Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors to lower blood pressure
- Vasodilators to open (dilate) blood vessels
Surgical options, including heart valve replacement or repair, may be required for more serious cases of valve disease. Procedures include either open heart surgery or minimally invasive heart catheterization, including percutaneous balloon valvotomy.
Open surgery with heart valve repair or replacement is usually the best solution in most valve conditions that cannot be managed with medicines. Mitral and tricuspid valves are generally more receptive to valve repair.
In cases requiring valve replacement, there are two types of replacement valves:
- Mechanical valves are made of a durable material that can last 20 years or more, but they do require life-long blood thinning drugs to prevent clots.
- Biological valves are made from either human or animal tissue (usually from a cow or pig). They may not last as long as mechanical valves in individuals less than 60 years of age, but they do not require the use of blood thinners.
Interventional catheter-based therapies (instead of open heart surgery) are an option for patients who are not candidates for surgery. Your heart team can open the narrowed valves with a balloon or perform treatments that address leaking around previously implanted surgical heart valves.
Learn more about valve disease:
- What Is Valve Disease
- What Causes Valve Disease?
- How Is Valve Disease Diagnosed?
- Symptoms of Valve Disease
- More About Aortic Stenosis
For more information about valve disease or to make an appointment, please call 713-441-2863 or complete the Contact Us online form.