10. What Treatment Options Are Available?
There are various treatment options available, depending on the severity of the problem and the eventual goal of the treatment. It breaks down into three main options: protecting your valves from further damage, lessening symptoms, and repairing or replacing faulty valves.
11. Protecting Valves
Heart valve disease puts you at a higher risk of developing endocarditis (an infection of the heart valve), a much more serious heart condition. Surgically repairing or replacing valves will also increase the risk, so many patients opt for treatment designed to simply manage heart valve disease. To protect your valve(s) from further damage, try the following things.
Be up front with your doctors and dentists about having heart valve disease. It will help them make informed decisions about how they treat you. You can also carry an ID card from the American Heart Association, in case you ever end up needing emergency care. You should also call your doctor immediately if you have symptoms of an infection, such as a sore throat (it could be strep), general body aches, or a fever. Take care of it before it gets worse!
You need to take good care of your teeth and gums and visit the dentist regularly. Many of the bacteria that can damage your heart valves come from the mouth and are due to poor dental care.
Lastly, consider taking preemptive antibiotics before you undergo any procedure that might cause bleeding, including basic dental visits, invasive testing, and any surgery (even minor ones). Be sure to consult your doctor regarding this step, as there are different recommendations depending on which type of heart valve disease you have.