Can heart valve disease be treated?

Heart valve disease can be treated by:

  1. Protecting your valve from further damage
  2. Taking medications
  3. Having surgery or invasive procedures if necessary
  4. Seeing your heart doctor for regular visits

Taking Medications

You may be prescribed medications to treat your symptoms and to lessen the chance of further damage. Some medications may be stopped after valve surgery. Others may need to be taken for the rest of your life.

Your doctor or nurse will review your medication information with you before you leave the hospital. It is important to know:

Having surgery or invasive procedures if necessary

Heart valve disease is a mechanical problem in the opening or closing of the leaflets, and surgery may eventually be necessary to repair or replace the valve.

Heart valve repair allows the surgeon to fix your faulty valve often without the use of artificial parts. The advantages of valve repair are lower risk of infection, decreased need for life-long blood thinner medication and preserved heart muscle strength.

Replacing the heart valve involves removing the old valve and sewing a new valve to the annulus of your old valve. The new valve may be chosen among several types of mechanical and biological valves. These replacement valves can provide adequate function when repair cannot, but depending on the type of valve used, they also may require certain medications to be taken.

The decision to prescribe medical treatment, surgical repair or surgical replacement depends on several factors, including the type of valve disease, the severity of the damage, your age and your medical history. Often, the surgeon and cardiologist will know which treatment will be best before surgery is performed. Other times, the decision is best made by the surgeon during surgery, when the valve can be seen.

Often times, valve surgery may be combined with other procedures (such as more than one valve procedure, bypass surgery or surgery to treat atrial fibrillation) to fully treat the patient’s heart disease.

Seeing your heart doctor 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 doctor how frequent theses should be spaced. Call your doctor sooner if your symptoms become more severe or frequent.

The Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute surgeons and cardiologists specialize in the treatment of valve disease. The team approach at the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute at Cleveland Clinic ensures that patients receive the best care before, during and after their valve procedure.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/21/2019.

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