Heart Valve Disease Treatment

In some cases, the only treatment for heart valve disease may be careful medical supervision. However, other treatment options may include medication, surgery to repair the valve, or surgery to replace the valve. Specific treatment will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • the location of the valve
  • your signs and symptoms
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference

Treatment varies, depending on the type of heart valve disease, and may include one, or a combination of, the following:

Medication

Medications are not a cure for heart valve disease, but in many cases are successful in the treatment of symptoms caused by heart valve disease. These medications may include:

  • Medications such as beta-blockers, digoxin and calcium channel blockers to reduce symptoms of heart valve disease by controlling the heart rate and helping to prevent abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Medications to control blood pressure, such as diuretics (medications that remove excess water from the body by increasing urine output) or vasodilators (medications that relax the blood vessels, decreasing the force against which the heart must pump) to ease the work of the heart.

Surgery

Surgery may be necessary to repair or replace the malfunctioning valve(s). Surgery may include:

  • Heart valve repair: In some cases, surgery on the malfunctioning valve can help alleviate symptoms. Examples of heart valve repair surgery include remodeling abnormal valve tissue so that the valve functions properly, or inserting prosthetic rings to help narrow a dilated valve. In many cases, heart valve repair is preferable, because a person's own tissues are used.
  • Heart valve replacement: When heart valves are severely malformed or destroyed, they may need to be replaced with an entirely new replacement valve. Replacement valve mechanisms fall into two categories: tissue (biologic) valves, which include animal valves and donated human aortic valves, and mechanical valves, which can consist of metal, plastic, or another artificial material.

Non-invasive/Non-surgical

  • Beaumont specialists are also performing a new percutaneous (through the skin) procedure using the MitraClip® system for patients with moderately severe to severe mitral regurgitation who may be too high risk for standard open-heart surgery.
  • Another treatment option that is less invasive than valve repair or replacement surgery is balloon valvuloplasty, a nonsurgical procedure in which a special catheter (hollow tube) is threaded into a blood vessel in the groin and guided into the heart. The catheter, which contains a deflated balloon, is inserted into the narrowed heart valve. Once in place, the balloon is inflated to stretch the valve open, and then removed. This procedure is sometimes used to treat pulmonary stenosis and, in some cases, aortic stenosis. There are also some special cases where a new valve can be inserted through the groin into the heart and opened up with a balloon like a stent. This is called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)