Some heart valve problems are never detected because they do not cause symptoms or affect the quality of your life in any significant way. But, according to the American Heart Association, about 5 million Americans each year learn that they have a heart valve problem.
Valve problems often get worse after the symptoms start. If it turns out that your symptoms are signaling a valve problem, your doctor will want to see you on a regular basis to monitor your condition. If the problem becomes more severe, it may require treatment, such as medication, surgery or other medical procedures to repair or replace the valve.
Whether your valve problem was just diagnosed or if you have been monitoring it or treating it for some time, do your best to make healthy lifestyle choices, such as avoiding infection, taking your medications, eating right and exercising. It may help you to feel better.
If you have been diagnosed with a heart valve problem or you are concerned that you or someone in your family might have a heart valve problem, talk with your doctor.
Ask every question you have. We invite you to print Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Heart Valve Disease and take it with you to your next appointment. You can take notes right on the paper and take them home to share with your family and help you remember what you learned during the appointment.
Last, work with your healthcare team to learn as much as you can about the nature and severity of your heart valve problem. Together you can make the best possible treatment decisions for you.