Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

To improve your quality of life, your doctor may recommend that you:

  • Keep your blood pressure under control. 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.
  • Prevent infective endocarditis. If you have had a heart valve replaced, your doctor may recommend you take antibiotics before dental procedures to prevent an infection called infective endocarditis. Check with your doctor to find out if he or she recommends that you take antibiotics before dental procedures.
  • 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. Tell your doctor if you have any changes in your signs or symptoms.

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.

Coping and support

If you have mitral valve regurgitation, here are some steps that may help you cope:

  • Take medications as prescribed. Take your medications as directed by your doctor.
  • Get support. Having support from your family and friends can help you cope with your condition. Ask your doctor about support groups that may be helpful.
  • Stay active. It's a good idea to stay physically active. Your doctor may give you recommendations about how much and what type of exercise is appropriate for you.