Mitral Valve Regurgitation (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Chronic mitral valve regurgitation (MR) develops slowly. And most people go years without having any symptoms. Before symptoms start, your condition may not be serious and you generally feel good. But even during this time, MR is doing irreversible damage to your heart. Because of this ongoing damage, your doctor may suggest surgery before you start having symptoms. Although it may be difficult to think about surgery when you feel well, not having surgery could lead to heart failure.
You will begin to have symptoms of chronic MR when your heart begins to weaken. A variety of medicines are available to treat your symptoms as MR progresses and to prevent complications.
People with mitral valve regurgitation sometimes develop serious complications including:
Living With Mitral Valve Regurgitation
Watch for symptoms. After you are diagnosed with mitral valve regurgitation (MR), it is important to watch for symptoms of heart failure. These symptoms show that your heart is weakening and MR is getting worse. Symptoms of heart failure include shortness of breath, fatigue, and swelling in your feet and ankles. If new symptoms develop or if your symptoms become worse, call your doctor.
Be active. You may need to be cautious about physical activity if you have symptoms, irregular heart rhythms, or changes in your heart size or function. But regular activity, even low-level activity such as walking, will help keep your heart healthy. If you want to start being more active, talk to your doctor first. Your doctor will help you create a safe exercise plan. For more information, see Mitral Valve Regurgitation and Exercise.
Limit sodium. Your doctor may advise you to limit sodium in your diet. If you consume too much salt, it will cause your body to retain excess fluid. Most of the sodium in our diets comes from processed foods, not the salt shaker. Foods to avoid include potato chips, pretzels, salted nuts, processed meats and cheeses, pizza, canned soups, canned vegetables, olives, fast foods, and frozen dinners (unless the label clearly states the product is low-sodium).
When you are grocery shopping, check labels carefully for sodium content. Your doctor may advise you to limit salt to less than 2,300 mg a day. Add more fresh fruit and vegetables to your diet to replace foods high in sodium. Read labels carefully to identify sources of hidden sodium in your diet.
Prevent endocarditis. Take good care of your teeth, and see your dentist regularly. If you have an artificial valve, you may need to take antibiotics before you have certain dental or surgical procedures. The antibiotics help prevent an infection in your heart called endocarditis.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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