In other forms of valvular disease, digitalis or other drugs to slow the heartbeat and increase its output may be prescribed. A diuretic may be added to prevent retention of salt and water; a salt-restricted diet may be recommended for the same reason. Anticoagulant drugs may be prescribed to prevent blood clots, and antiarrhythmic drugs may be used to maintain a normal heart rate and rhythm.
Since diseased heart valves are highly susceptible to a serious infection called bacterial endocarditis, it is important to take antibiotics before any dental or surgical procedure that may release bacteria into the bloodstream. Depending upon the severity of the disease, a doctor also may recommend avoiding strenuous activities and taking frequent rest periods during the day to minimize the workload of the heart.