Lifestyle and home remedies
To improve your quality of life if you have mitral valve stenosis, your doctor may recommend that you:
- Limit salt. Salt in food and drinks may increase pressure on your heart. Don't add salt to food, and avoid high-sodium foods. Read food labels and ask for low-salt dishes when eating out.
- 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.
- 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 make symptoms worse. Ask your doctor about the effects of alcohol on your heart.
- Exercise. How long and hard you're able to exercise may depend on the severity of your condition and the intensity of exercise. But everyone should engage in at least low-level, regular exercise for cardiovascular fitness. Ask your doctor for guidance before starting to exercise, especially if you're considering competitive sports.
- See your doctor regularly. Establish a regular appointment schedule with your cardiologist or primary care provider.
Women with mitral valve stenosis need to discuss family planning with their doctors before becoming pregnant. Pregnancy causes the heart to work harder. How a heart with mitral valve stenosis tolerates the extra work depends on the degree of stenosis and how well the heart pumps. Throughout your pregnancy and after delivery, your cardiologist and obstetrician should monitor you.
The best way to prevent mitral valve stenosis is to prevent its most common cause, rheumatic fever. You can do this by making sure you and your children see your doctor for sore throats. Untreated strep throat infections can develop into rheumatic fever. Fortunately, strep throat is usually easily treated with antibiotics.