To improve your quality of life if you have mitral valve stenosis, your doctor may recommend that you:
- See your dentist regularly. Receive regular dental care, following recommendations for the prevention of heart infections (endocarditis) for any dental procedure.
- Lower the salt in your diet. Food doesn't directly affect the degree of mitral valve stenosis. However, salt in food and drinks may increase the pressure on your heart. So don't add salt to your food, and avoid foods high in sodium. Read the labels on foods for sodium content and ask for low-salt foods when you eat out.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight may make you short of breath and may complicate heart surgery if you ever need it. Keep your weight within a range recommended by your doctor.
- Cut back on caffeine. Irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) may occur in people with mitral valve stenosis. Arrhythmias may get worse if you have too much caffeine. Ask your doctor about drinking beverages with caffeine, such as coffee or soft drinks.
- Seek prompt medical attention. If you notice frequent palpitations or feel your heart racing, seek medical help. Fast heart rhythms that aren't treated can lead to rapid deterioration in people with mitral valve stenosis.
- Cut back on alcohol. Heavy alcohol use can cause arrhythmias and can make symptoms worse. If you have mitral valve stenosis, ask your doctor about the effects of drinking alcohol.
- Exercise. Physical activity may help to keep your body fit and may help you to recover faster if you ever need heart surgery. How long and hard you're able to exercise may depend on what level of activity triggers your symptoms, if any. Ask your doctor for guidance before starting any exercise program.
- See your doctor regularly. Establish a regular appointment schedule with your cardiologist or primary care provider.
If you're a woman with mitral valve stenosis, discuss family planning with your doctor before you become pregnant, because your heart works harder during pregnancy. How a heart with mitral valve stenosis tolerates this extra work depends on the degree of stenosis and how well your heart pumps. If you become pregnant, your cardiologist and obstetrician should evaluate you throughout your pregnancy, labor and delivery, and after delivery.
Sep. 15, 2011
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