Living with Heart Valve Disease: Management Tips

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Update Date 01/08/2020 . 4 mins read
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Heart valve disease, or valvular heart disease, is what happens when one or more of these valves are not functioning properly. This may be due to damage or disease. To live a healthy lifestyle nonetheless, heart valve disease management tips have to be followed.

The four chambers of the heart are the right and left atria and the right and left ventricle. The chambers are connected by valves – the mitral, tricuspid, aortal, and pulmonary valves.

These open and shut to ensure a one-way flow of blood throughout the heart and the rest of the body. This is so that oxygen-rich blood does not mix in with oxygen-poor blood, which can reduce the efficiency of blood flow throughout the body. 

Heart Valve Disease: All You Need to Know

Some individuals who have valvular heart disease may show little or no symptoms at all. For more severe cases however, symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Headaches
  • Cough
  • Water retention
  • Pulmonary edema, or having excessive fluid in the lungs

Management Tips for Heart Valve Disease

To better understand how to manage heart valve disease, it helps to know what exactly causes this condition.

Heart valve disease may arise congenitally, or before or at birth, or as one grows older. Not all causes for valvular heart disease are currently known. 

Known causes for valvular heart disease include: 

  • Valvular heart disease due to birth defect
  • Endocarditis, when the heart tissue is inflamed
  • Rheumatic Fever, a bacterial infection that may damage the heart
  • Aging
  • Heart attack and coronary heart disease, or the narrowing of arteries that supply the heart
  • Cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disease
  • Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease  
  • Aortic aneurysm, when the aorta is dangerously enlarged
  • Hypertension and Atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries 
  • Lupus, and other connective tissue diseases

Types of Heart Valve Disease

How to Prevent Heart Valve Disease

To lessen the risk of of developing valvular heart disease, one must adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Quit Smoking

Giving up cigarette smoking is one of the best ways to ensure overall health. Not only does having less nicotine in the body help boost lung health, it could also prevent health complications like heart valve disease. Giving up smoking can also reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and immune system issues.

Get Enough Exercise

Exercising regularly for at least half an hour everyday can boost overall heart health. It could also lessen the risk of valvular heart disease. Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight, losing or gaining as needed, is one way to lessen the risk of this condition. This is because being at a healthy weight helps lessen cardiac complications.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Include a variety of fruits and vegetables, low fat or fat free dairy products, and fish and whole grains in your regular diet. Also avoid saturated, trans fat, and excessive salt and sugar.

Manage Alcohol Intake

Though some studies suggest that a bit of alcohol can help increase good cholesterol, excessive consumption can increase the risk of developing certain types of heart disease. 

Manage your stress levels

This may be through hobbies that allows relaxation. Examples of this include mindfulness activities, and meditation.

Watch your blood pressure

See your doctor for routine check-ups and make sure to keep your blood pressure levels in check. Seek medical attention immediately for any signs of hypertension.

How to Manage Heart Valve Disease

Valvular heart disease is a lifelong condition. But having heart valve disease should not prevent one from living a fulfilling life.

One can continue living a full life especially if they only manifest mild to moderate symptoms. 

By following proper practices and being aware of one’s management activities, patients can healthily go through life. Here are some heart valve disease management tips.

Monitor your Heart Health

Having valvular heart disease increases the chance of later developing heart failure. Observe your symptoms and talk to and coordinate with your doctor.

Consult a dentist and doctor

Consult a dentist or doctor about the increased risk of developing infective endocarditis. 

Get Vaccinated

Vaccines are a good way to lead a healthy lifestyle since people with heart problems find it more difficult to fend off heart conditions.

Note that care differs based on biological gender

Male and female hearts are different, so treatment and care is also different. 

Know the risks of pregnancy with heart valve disease

Pregnancy can be risky with heart valve disease, especially if the condition is severe. First consult a doctor and consider getting the heart valves repaired or replaced before getting pregnant.

While a heart operation is possible during pregnancy it is at an increased risk to the mother and the fetus. 

If symptoms suddenly worsen, call a doctor to receive immediate care. 

Make sure to take prescribed medications

Regularly take all your medicines as prescribed. And make sure to report any side effects or alternative reactions to your doctor.

Key Takeaways

As with all chronic heart conditions, living a normal, enjoyable life is not impossible. What matters is to be vigilant about maintaining your health. And seeking help from a healthcare provider when needed.

Learn more about heart valve disease, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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