To improve your quality of life, your doctor may recommend that you:
- Check your blood pressure regularly. Control of high blood pressure is important if you have mitral valve regurgitation.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. Food doesn't directly affect mitral valve regurgitation. But a healthy diet can help prevent other heart disease that can weaken the heart muscle. Eat foods that are low in saturated and trans fats, sugar, salt, and refined grains, such as white bread. Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and proteins, such as lean meats, fish and nuts.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Keep your weight within a range recommended by your doctor.
- Cut back on caffeine. Caffeine can worsen irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias). Ask your doctor about drinking beverages with caffeine, such as coffee or soft drinks.
- Cut back on alcohol. Heavy alcohol use can cause arrhythmias and can make your symptoms worse. Excessive alcohol use can also cause cardiomyopathy, a condition of weakened heart muscle that leads to mitral regurgitation. Ask your doctor about the effects of drinking alcohol.
- Exercise. How long and hard you're able to exercise depends on the severity of your condition and the intensity of exercise. Ask your doctor for guidance before starting to exercise, especially if you're considering competitive sports.
- See your doctor regularly. Establish a regular evaluation schedule with your cardiologist or primary care provider.
If you're a woman with mitral valve regurgitation, discuss family planning with your doctor before you become pregnant. Pregnancy causes the heart to work harder. How a heart with mitral valve regurgitation tolerates this extra work depends on the degree of regurgitation and how well your heart pumps. Throughout your pregnancy and after delivery, your cardiologist and obstetrician should monitor you.
Aug. 28, 2014
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- Gaasch WH. Surgical procedures in severe chronic mitral valve regurgitation. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 5, 2014.
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