Medications for Heart Valve Symptoms

hands on pill organizer

How do medications help people with valve problems?

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

Can I take medications instead of having a valve procedure?

Although medications can serve a very important purpose, there is no medication that will stop a valve from leaking. Likewise, there's no medication that will open a valve that's too 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 heart valve repair or replacement be considered over medications?

If your valve disease progresses, surgical treatment may be necessary. Your health care team can help you understand and evaluate options for heart valve repair or valve replacement 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 and ARBs Vasodilator: Opens blood vessels more fully and can help reduce high blood pressure and make it easier for your heart to pump.
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.
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.

Additional resources:

* Some medications are commonly called blood thinners because they can help reduce a blood clot from forming. There are two main types of blood thinners that patients commonly take: anticoagulants such as warfarin, dabigatran (Eliquis) and rivaroxaban (Xarelto), and antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin or clopidogrel. 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. 
The American Heart Association receives support from pharmaceutical and biotech companies, device manufacturers and health insurance providers whose products may be mentioned in this article. The American Heart Association maintains strict policies preventing supporters from influencing science-based health information. View a list of supporters.