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Living with Valve Disease

When you have heart valve disease, it is important to protect yourself from future heart problems, even if your valve has been repaired or replaced with surgery.

Know the type and extent of your heart valve disease

Protect your valve from further damage

Ask your heart valve disease doctor if you are at risk for infective endocarditis. This infection can greatly damage or destroy your heart valves and can be fatal. You require the following steps to prevent endocarditis if you:

To prevent infective endocarditis:
  • Tell all your doctors and dentist you have heart valve disease . You may want to carry a card with this information.
  • Call your heart valve doctor if you have symptoms of an infection . Do not wait a few days until you have a major infection to seek treatment. Colds and flus do not cause endocarditis. But infections, which may have the same symptoms (sore throat, general body aches, and fever) do. To be safe, call your doctor.
  • Take good care of your teeth and gums . See your dentist for regular visits.
  • Always carry your American Heart Association bacterial endocarditis card.
  • Take antibiotics before:
    • dental procedures
    • procedures on the bowel or bladder
  • Check with your doctor about the type and amount of antibiotics you should take. Plan ahead to find out what steps you must take before the day of your appointment. Learn more about protection of infection.
Take your medications
  • Your medications are used to control your symptoms and help your heart pump blood more efficiently. Some medications may be stopped if you have valve surgery to correct your problem. Others may need to be taken throughout your lifetime.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions when you take your medications. It is important to know:
    • The names of your medications
    • What they are for
    • How often and at what times to take your medication.
  • Keep a list of your medications and bring them to each doctor visit.
  • If you have questions about your medications for heart valve disease, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Common types of medications What they do
Diuretics ("water pills") remove extra fluid from the tissues and bloodstream; lessen the symptoms of heart failure
Antiarrhythmics control the heart's rhythm
Vasodilators lessen the heart's work. Also encourages blood to flow in a forward direction, rather than backwards through a leaky valve
ACE inhibitors a type of vasodilators used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure
Beta blockers treat high blood pressure and lessen the heart's work by helping the heart beat slower and less forcefully. Used to decrease palpitations in some patients
Anticoagulants ("blood thinners") prolong the clotting time of your blood, if you are at risk for developing blood clots on your heart valve. See coumadin for more information
  • Check the drug search to find out more about your medications
  • Learn more about taking medications safely

See your cardiologist for regular visits

You will need to schedule regular follow-up appointments with your cardiologist to make sure your heart valves work as they should. Ask your heart doctor how frequent theses should be spaced. Call your doctor sooner if your symptoms become more severe or frequent.

  • Schedule regular appointments with your cardiologist (even if you have no symptoms).
  • Your appointments may be spaced once a year or more often, if your doctor feels you need to be followed more closely.
  • Your appointments should include a medical exam, and diagnostic studies (such as an echocardiogram) may be repeated at regular intervals.
  • Call your doctor sooner if your symptoms worsen or become more severe or frequent.
  • If you ARE having symptoms, or if diagnostic tests show your valve disease is severe, your doctor may suggest you undergo an invasive procedure or heart surgery. Get more information.

Medications, surgery and other treatments will not fully cure your heart valve disease. You will always need lifelong medical follow-up to make sure your heart valves work as they should.

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Call a Heart & Vascular Nurse locally 216.445.9288 or toll-free 866.289.6911.

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This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

© Copyright 2014 Cleveland Clinic. All rights reserved.

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