Medications for Heart Valve Symptoms

How do medications help people with valve problems?

People who are diagnosed with heart valve disease may be prescribed a medication to help relieve symptoms and decrease the risk of further problems.

Can I take medications instead of undergoing treatment for the valve?

Although medications can serve a very important purpose, there is no medication that will stop a valve from leaking. Likewise, there is no medication that will open a valve that is too tightly constricted.

Still, there are times when the medication is determined to be the best course of action. This decision may be most appropriate for someone whose valve condition is very mild or for a person for whom surgery is not an option.

When should surgery be considered over medications for valve replacement or repair?

Medications cannot always protect the heart and the diseased valve may continue to damage the heart. Further actions may be needed. Your healthcare team can help you understand and evaluate options for heart valve repair or valve replacement surgery. Highly effective procedures are available for treating heart valve conditions. Some people find that medications are no longer needed within a few weeks after surgery.

Below are some of the types of medications that heart valve patients may be prescribed.

Medication Class Purpose for a Valve Disease Patient
ACE inhibitors Vasodilator: Which means it opens blood vessels more fully and can help reduce high blood and slow heart failure
Anti-arrhythmic medications Helps restore a normal pumping rhythm to the heart
Antibiotics Can help to prevent the onset of infections
Anticoagulants (*blood thinners) Reduces the risk of developing blood clots from poorly circulating blood around faulty heart valves. Blood clots are dangerous because they can lead to stroke.
Beta-blockers Can reduce the heart's workload by helping the heart beat slower. Some patients find them helpful for reducing palpitations.
Diuretics ("water pills") Reduces amount of fluid in the tissues and bloodstream which can lessen the workload on the heart
Vasodilators Can lower the heart's work by opening and relaxing the blood vessels; reduced pressure may encourage blood to flow in a forward direction, rather than being forced backward through a leaky valve

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(* Some medications are commonly called blood thinners because they can help reduce a blood clot from forming. There are three main types of blood thinners that patients commonly take: anticoagulants like warfarin or heparin, antiplatelet drugs like aspirin, and fibrinolytics like tPA (tissue plasminogen activator). Each type of medication has a specific function to prevent a blood clot from forming or causing a blocked blood vessel, heart attack, or stroke.)