Treatments & Procedures
Once you have been diagnosed with valve disease, the course of treatment your doctor recommends will be determined by the severity of the condition.
Your course of treatment will depend on your specific problem, your age and several other factors; the physician will explain your options and help you make an informed treatment decision.
Medication for Valve Disease
If you have mild valve disease, daily medications may be enough to treat your condition. If your doctor prescribes medication, take the following steps to ensure your health.
- Follow 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 treat strep throat and — for some patients — take antibiotics before undergoing dental or other surgical procedures that may cause bleeding and subsequent infection.
Medications that may be prescribed include the following. These can help to reduce blood pressure and optimize heart-pumping action to lessen stress on the heart and its valves.
- Beta blockers, most commonly used for high blood pressure, help to reduce blood vessel contraction
- Blood thinners
- Diuretics (water pills) remove excess fluid buildup
- Anti-arrhythmic drugs help restore the heart's normal rhythm
- Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors lower blood pressure
- Vasodilators open (dilate) blood vessels
Surgery for Valve Disease
Surgical options, including heart valve replacement or repair, may be required for more serious cases of valve disease.
Open surgery with heart valve repair or replacement is usually the best solution for most valve conditions that cannot be managed with medication. Mitral and tricuspid valves are generally more receptive to valve repair.
The mitral valve may need repairing due to heart attack damage, aging, abnormalities from birth or other disease. Surgical mitral valve repair is an option for most patients with a leaking (regurgitant) valve and for many with a narrowed (stenotic) valve.
Whenever possible, a heart valve should be surgically repaired. A multidisciplinary approach involving cardiac imaging specialists and expert cardiovascular surgeons, is used to repair the valve rather than replace it. When a valve is repaired, patients can avoid long-term use of blood thinners and the possibility of infection, as well as other problems.
Interventional Catheter-Based Therapies
Interventional catheter-based therapies are an option for patients who are not candidates for surgery. The therapy is done through a small incision on the inside of the patient’s leg. A catheter is inserted into the femoral artery and used to access the heart.
Your heart team can open the narrowed valves with a balloon or perform treatments that address leaking around previously implanted surgical heart valves.
In the case of mitral regurgitation, MitraClip therapy is a transcatheter (or percutaneous — through the skin) mitral valve repair used to treat and reduce the symptoms of mitral regurgitation. This treatment option for patients with significant symptomatic, degenerative mitral regurgitation, who may not be candidates for surgery is only available at Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center. Outcomes can include improvement in patient symptoms and reduced hospitalizations for heart failure.
Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation/Replacement (TAVI/TAVR)
Elderly patients with severe aortic stenosis are often too ill to undergo open-cardiac surgery. Many of these patients, however, may now be effectively treated with transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) or transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) surgery. TAVI and TAVR are performed through a small incision made on the inside of the patient’s leg. A catheter inserted into the femoral artery is used to access the heart, eliminating the need to open the chest to perform heart surgery. Only patients who are at least moderate risk for surgical aortic valve replacement are considered for TAVI; however, alternative treatments are available for patients who do not qualify. Learn more about the qualifications for being considered for this therapy.
TAVI and TAVR procedures are only performed by our Valve Clinic team at Houston Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center. The team is made up of nationally recognized experts in treating valve disease.