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  • Reviewed on 12/12
    By Dr. Freeman

Heart Valve Disease: Treatment


People who do not have any symptoms or only minimal symptoms may not need treatment. Sometimes, medications can help. For others, open heart surgery might be needed. New approaches using cardiac catheterization and transapical valve implantation/replacement (TAVI/TAVR) will allow minimally invasive repair and may be the best choice for some valve disorders such as aortic and mitral stenosis.

Lifestyle changes may also be suggested, including quitting smoking, limiting physical activities (in rare circumstances) and eating a diet low in salt, cholesterol and fat.

 

Surgery

Surgery is the most invasive option for the treatment of valve disease. During surgery, valves may either be repaired or replaced.

More and more valve problems can be repaired, allowing a patient to use his own valve tissue and structure to help fix the problem.

When valves are not repairable, replacement is used. Replacement prosthetic valves can either be mechanical (made from materials such as plastic, carbon or metal) or biological (made from human or animal tissue). Mechanical valves increase the risk of blood clots forming on the new valve. Patients with mechanical heart valves will need to take blood-thinning medicines (like Coumadin®) for the rest of their lives.

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