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How Can Heart Valve Disease Be Prevented?

To prevent heart valve disease caused by rheumatic fever, see your doctor if you have signs of a strep infection. These signs include a painful sore throat, fever, and white spots on your tonsils.

If you do have a strep infection, be sure to take all medicines prescribed to treat it. Prompt treatment of strep infections can prevent rheumatic fever, which damages the heart valves.

It's possible that exercise, a healthy diet, and medicines that lower cholesterol might prevent aortic stenosis (thickening and stiffening of the aortic valve). Researchers continue to study this possibility.

A healthy diet, physical activity, other lifestyle changes, and medicines aimed at preventing a heart attack, high blood pressure, or heart failure also may help prevent heart valve disease.

If you've had previous heart valve disease and now have a man-made valve, you're at risk for a heart infection called infective endocarditis (IE).

One of the most common causes of IE is poor dental hygiene. Thus, to prevent this serious infection, floss and brush your teeth and regularly see a dentist. Gum infections and tooth decay can increase the risk of IE.

Let your doctors and dentists know if you have a man-made valve or if you've had IE before. They may give you antibiotics before dental procedures (such as dental cleanings) that could allow bacteria to enter your bloodstream. Talk to your doctor about whether you need to take antibiotics before such procedures.

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Heart Valve Disease Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Heart Valve Disease, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.


Heart Valve Disease in the News

November 18, 2013
Valve repair or replacement offers similar outcomes for severe heart valve disease
Repair or replace? Consumers often ask this question when considering faulty cars, appliances, or other equipment. A new clinical study has now addressed this question for a serious medical decision: how to treat ischemic mitral regurgitation (IMR), a condition in which blood backflows into the heart because the mitral valve becomes leaky after a heart attack. The study compared the two surgical options –re-tightening the leaky mitral valve or replacing it with a prosthetic –and found no significant differences in patient outcomes after a year.

View all Heart Valve Disease Press Releases


 
November 16, 2011 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.