Some types of valvular heart disease can be prevented, while others cannot. For example, congenital heart problems, or heart problems you are born with, can't be prevented. On the other hand, you may be able to prevent any mild valvular heart disease you have from worsening, and some types from happening in the first place, through practicing a healthy lifestyle. Such lifestyle changes may include stopping smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and being careful to eat a healthy diet. One specific preventive step that is important to take in preventing valvular disease is to treat strep throat promptly. The type of bacteria that cause strep throat can also cause rheumatic fever, a kind of inflammation that can cause heart valve problems.
Jonathan E. Yager, MD
- internal medicine
Location and Office HoursCardiac Care Associates PC
Fairfax, VA 22031
- Anthem Healthkeepers (BC/BS)
- Coventry Health Care
- Kaiser Permanente Health Plans
- MDIPA/MAMSI (UnitedHealthcare)
- United Healthcare
- Inova Fairfax Hospital
- Inova Loudoun Hospital Center
- Reston Hospital Center
How can heart valve disease (valvular heart disease) be prevented?
Piedmont Heart Institute answered
What supplements can help protect my heart?
RealAge answeredCertain nutrients and supplements can work preventive wonders for your heart, including:
- Multivitamins: Your multivitamin is chock-full of heart-healthy micronutrients, such as magnesium, calcium and vitamin D.
- Folate: This B vitamin lowers homocysteine to healthy levels. Since folate from food is only partially absorbed by your body, take a 400-mcg folic acid supplement. Make sure you're getting enough B6 and B12, too, because folate can mask a deficiency in these.
- Niacin: This drug appears to decrease the production of triglycerides in the body, which might be the mechanism that allows the body to decrease LDL levels. (Check with your doctor before taking a large dose.)
What can happen if advanced heart valve disease is not treated?
SCAI answeredWhile certain minor heart valve problems may not require treatment, it is critical that advanced heart valve disease be treated. If it is not treated, it can lead to serious health problems:
- Heart failure. This condition describes when the heart can no longer pump blood the way it should, because it cannot fill with enough blood or it lacks the pumping power to send blood to the rest of the body. Symptoms of heart failure include fatigue; reduced appetite; dry, hacking cough, often worse when lying down; shortness of breath, especially at night; fainting; and weight gain and or swelling of the feet, ankles and abdomen.
- Stroke. During a stroke, blood flow to the brain is interrupted, either by a blood clot or by a break in a vessel carrying blood to the brain, resulting in brain damage or death.
- Blood clots. When blood forms a clot, it clumps as it hardens from a liquid to a solid. Blood clots can restrict or block the flow of blood to tissues, resulting in tissue damage or death.
- Death due to sudden cardiac arrest. When the heart stops beating suddenly and unexpectedly, it is called cardiac arrest. Death usually occurs if sudden cardiac arrest is not treated within minutes.
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