Treatment Options

Doctor showing heart scan to wife of patient

Many people live with heart valve disease and do not require surgery. For others the condition is more serious and surgery is required. Repair or replacement procedures are available, depending on your condition.

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As you work with your cardiologist to understand your heart valve disease treatment options, keep in mind that heart valve disease is a structural or mechanical problem. One or more of your heart valves is broken, worn down or functioning poorly and needs to be fixed for your heart to work properly.

Many people can have heart valve disease for decades without requiring surgical treatment. In other cases, the condition of the heart valve is a risk to the person's life or negatively affects his or her quality of life, and surgery is required. Repair or replacement procedures are available, depending on your condition.

Your cardiologist will know if your heart valve disease should be treated with heart valve surgery. The decision will be based on the type of heart valve disease, the severity of the damage, your age and your medical history.

Heart Disease Medication

If you don't need heart valve surgery right away, your cardiologist may prescribe heart disease medication to treat your symptoms and help avoid further valve damage. Common heart disease drugs include diuretics, anti-arrhythmic medications, vasodilators, ACE inhibitors, beta blockers and anticoagulants (blood thinners). Be sure to take these medications as directed and talk to your doctor if you have questions.

Heart Valve Repair

Heart valve repair is a surgical procedure that repairs your current heart valve that is not working properly. Heart valve repair usually involves the heart valve leaflets that open and close to pump blood through the heart. In some cases, your doctor may find that repairing your heart valve is the best way to treat your heart valve disease.

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Heart Valve Replacement

If it is not possible to repair your heart valve, it will be removed and the surgeon will implant an artificial (prosthetic) valve in its place. There are two types of prosthetic valves used for replacement: mechanical or tissue. With more than 30 years of heart valve expertise, St. Jude Medical provides tissue valves and mechanical valves.

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