Heart valve disease is a lifelong condition. However, many people with the condition don't have any symptoms until they're middle-aged or older. Over time, heart valve disease may worsen and can cause heart failure or other life-threatening conditions.
Eventually, you may need your faulty heart valve(s) repaired or replaced. After repair or replacement, you will still need certain medicines and regular checkups with your doctor.
Ongoing Health Care Needs
- See your doctor regularly for checkups and for echocardiography or other tests. This will allow your doctor to check the progress of your heart valve disease. Ask your doctor what physical activities are appropriate for you.
- Call your doctor if your heart valve disease symptoms worsen or you develop new symptoms.
- Call your doctor if you develop symptoms of endocarditis. Symptoms of this heart infection include fever, chills, muscle aches, night sweats, difficulty breathing, fatigue (tiredness), and weakness, red spots on the palms and soles, and swelling of the feet, legs, and belly.
- Let your doctors and dentists know if you have a man-made valve or if you've had endocarditis before. They may give you antibiotics before medical or dental procedures (such as surgery or dental cleanings) that could allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. Talk to your doctor about whether you need to take antibiotics before such procedures.
- Take all your prescribed medicines.
Pregnancy and heart valve disease
Mild to moderate heart valve disease during pregnancy usually can be managed with medicines or bed rest without posing heightened risks to the mother or fetus.
Most heart valve conditions can be treated with medicines that are safe to take during pregnancy. Your doctor can advise you on which medicines are safe for you.
Severe heart valve disease can make pregnancy or labor and delivery riskier. If you have severe heart valve disease and/or its symptoms, consider having your heart valves repaired or replaced before getting pregnant. Such repair or replacement also can be done during pregnancy, if needed. But this surgery poses danger to both the mother and fetus.
This answer from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.
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