There are several treatment options available for people diagnosed with heart valve disease. These range from lifestyle changes to valve replacement surgery. Your doctor will work with you to determine the treatment approach that is best for your condition.
To help manage your heart valve disease, your doctor may suggest that you limit your salt intake, refrain from drinking alcohol which limits heart function, stop smoking and lose weight if necessary.
Patients with heart disease can be treated with medications including: diuretics (water pills) digoxin (medication that can strengthen the heart muscle and control heart irregularity), blood pressure medications and beta blockers (which can help to control blood pressure as well as heart irregularity.)
Currently the only heart valve disease that can be prevented with medication is rheumatic heart disease, a condition caused by rheumatic fever–a complication of scarlet fever or strep throat. Rheumatic fever can damage heart valves and heart muscle. If strep throat or scarlet fever is treated promptly, this will prevent any adverse effects on the heart. Antibiotics have virtually abolished rheumatic heart disease except in those populations that do not have ready access to antibiotic therapy.
Procedures & Surgery
When heart valve disease worsens, your doctor will suggest surgery to repair or replace the valve. If possible, heart valve repair is preferred over heart valve replacement. This can be accomplished either through surgery or in certain circumstances by a catheter procedure.
Considerations for Pregnant Women
Mild to moderate heart valve disease during pregnancy usually can be managed with medicines or bed rest without posing heightened risks to the mother or developing baby. Your doctor can advise you on which medicines are appropriate during pregnancy.
Women with severe heart valve disease who are pregnant or considering pregnancy should work with both their cardiologist and obstetrician to ensure that their disease is managed properly.