If you have been diagnosed with a valve problem, one of the four valves in your heart doesn’t work properly and you may need treatment to feel better and reduce your risk of stroke, heart failure, and sudden cardiac arrest. (Click here if you’d like to know more about the structure of the heart, its valves, and how they work). How you and your doctor choose to treat your valve problem will depend on factors such as the nature of the problem and your age.
Whether your valve problem was present from birth or acquired later in life (Click here for more information on the types and causes of heart valve problems), you have options for treatment.
Why Treatment Is So Important
You can have a valve problem and never have a symptom. But if you do have symptoms, it is extremely important that you receive treatment. According to an article in Heart, without treatment, half of the people who are feeling symptoms of severe aortic stenosis, one type of heart valve disease, die within an average of two years.
Understanding Your Options
With or without symptoms, it is important to talk to your doctor about treatment options. The best treatment for you will depend on a number of factors: your age, type of valve disease, severity of the damage, symptoms, structure of your heart, other medical conditions, and your lifestyle.
You can learn more about your options for treatment in each of the following sections of this site:
- Medications and lifestyle changes. Day-to-day choices about taking your medication, seeing your doctor regularly, diet, and exercise can make a difference in slowing the progress of valve disease and maintaining health valves. Learn more…
- Valve repair or replacement. In some cases, valves can be repaired; in others they should be replaced. Traditionally, if you are healthy enough, a diseased heart valve can be repaired or replaced with open-heart surgery or some newer, less invasive surgical procedures. Learn more…
- Valvuloplasty. This minimally invasive procedure can improve blood flow through stenotic valves (do not open enough) by inflating a balloon within the valve. It can be a good option if you cannot have surgery. Learn more…
Treating Valve Disease in Children
If you are a parent of a child with valve disease, click here for a list of the most common valve problems in children and how they are treated. Additional information for parents of children with heart problems is also available by clicking here.
Ask About New Treatments
The treatment of heart valve problems is always changing and improving as new techniques and devices are developed, tested, and approved. Several promising treatments are in the investigational stage but have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Talk with your doctor about the treatment options available to you, including new treatments offered in clinical trials. Click here to learn more about participating in a clinical trial and click here for more information about how new treatments and technologies are tested and approved before they become available.
It is in your best interest to gather as much up-to-date information as possible before deciding the best course of action for you. Discuss your treatment options with your doctor and consider getting a second opinion before making your final decision on the best treatment for you or your family member.