Your treatment explained
Current clinical guidelines on the management of heart valve disease make a clear distinction between symptomatic and asymptomatic conditions – however what they identify is the need to treat severe cases of heart valve disease.
Without treatment, patients with severe disease face reduced longevity, impairments in physical and social functioning, and lower emotional well-being. All these factors can contribute to poor quality of life.
Your healthcare professional will offer you information about what treatments are available to you.
What happens if I don't treat my condition or choose to ignore the recommended procedures?
Heart valve disease should not be ignored. Valve repair and replacement can be very effective and evidence shows that, with proper treatment, most people enjoy a return to good health and add many years to their life. If you ignore a recommended procedure, there is a risk of heart failure, which may be fatal.
Should surgery be considered over medications for valve replacement or repair?
Heart valve disease cannot be reversed with medication alone. In the long-term, the only effective solution is to undergo a surgical repair or, more often, replacement with surgery or new transcatheter procedures. Valve repair or replacement can help people can return to a good quality of life with their friends and family. Please discuss treatment options with your doctor.
Sometimes, medication or balloon valvuloplasty may be considered the best course of action if the patient’s symptoms are currently mild or if replacement is no longer an option.
In some cases, medications may be prescribed for patients with valvular disease to:
1. Reduce unpleasant symptoms that accompany milder forms of the disorder
2. Maintain heart rhythm if a related arrhythmia is present
3. Lower the patient’s risk for clotting and stroke
Heart valve disease is a progressive condition, and the outlook is poor for those who receive no effective intervention. Many who do receive valve replacement go on to live very full and healthy lives, especially when their cardiovascular risks are otherwise low. For some patients, the procedure gives them over 15 years longer lifespan.
Medications cannot always protect the heart and the diseased valve may continue to damage the heart. Further actions may be needed. Your healthcare team can help you understand and evaluate options for heart valve repair or valve replacement surgery. Highly effective procedures are available for treating heart valve conditions. Not only are they treatable, but curable. Some people find that medications are no longer needed within a few weeks after surgery.
Below are some of the types of medications that heart valve patients may be prescribed.
Purpose for a Valve Disease Patient
These are vasodilator, which means it opens blood vessels more fully and can help reduce high blood pressure and slow heart failure.
These help to restore, or maintain, a normal rhythm to the heart beat.
These help to prevent the onset of infections post-treatment.
These are ‘blood thinners’. They reduces the risk of developing blood clots from poorly circulating blood around faulty heart valves. Blood clots are dangerous because they could lead to a stroke. They are often prescribed to patients who have had a mechanical valve fitted.
These can reduce the heart's workload as the help the heart beat slower. Some patients find them helpful for reducing palpitations, and controlling heart rate.
These are also known as ‘water pills’. They reduce the amount of fluid in the tissues and bloodstream which can lessen the workload on the heart.
As for the ace inhibitors, these can lower the heart's workload by opening and relaxing the blood vessels; reduced pressure may encourage blood to flow in a forward direction, rather than being forced backward through a leaky valve.