The mitral valve regulates blood flow on the left side of the heart. When you have mitral valve stenosis, the mitral valve doesn't open as wide as it should. The valve becomes stiff or scarred, or the valve flaps become partly joined together. This forces your heart to work harder to pump blood through the valve, which can weaken the heart and cause other problems.
It may take many years for symptoms to develop. An early symptom is shortness of breath when you're active.
Your doctor will check your heart regularly. Your doctor will recommend a heart-healthy lifestyle. You may take medicine to help treat or prevent other problems that can happen, such as atrial fibrillation and stroke. If you have symptoms or severe stenosis, you may have a procedure to stretch the valve open or surgery to repair or replace the valve.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
- Call your doctor if you have new symptoms or your symptoms get worse.
- Eat heart-healthy foods. These include vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, lean meat, fish, and whole grains. Limit sodium, sugar, and alcohol.
- Be active. Ask your doctor what type and level of exercise is safe for you.
- Do not smoke. Smoking increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
- Stay at a healthy weight. Lose weight if you need to.
- Manage other health problems. If you think you may have a problem with alcohol or drug use, talk to your doctor.
- Avoid infections such as COVID-19, colds, and the flu. Get the flu vaccine every year. Get a pneumococcal vaccine. If you have had one before, ask your doctor whether you need another dose. Stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines.
- Take care of your teeth and gums. Get regular dental checkups. Good dental health is important because bacteria can spread from infected teeth and gums to the heart valves.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You have symptoms of a heart attack. These may include:
- Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
- Shortness of breath.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly or in one or both shoulders or arms.
- Dizziness or lightheadedness.
- A fast or irregular pulse.
- You have been diagnosed with angina, and you have angina symptoms that do not go away with rest or are not getting better within 5 minutes after you take a dose of nitroglycerin.
- You have symptoms of a stroke. These may include:
- Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
- Sudden vision changes.
- Sudden trouble speaking.
- Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
- Sudden problems with walking or balance.
- A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.
- You have severe shortness of breath.
- You cough up pink, foamy mucus.
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have new symptoms or your symptoms get worse.
- You have new or increased shortness of breath.
- You feel very tired.
- You feel a fluttering, racing, or pounding feeling in your chest.
- You are dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you may faint.
- You have a fever.
- You have sudden weight gain, such as more than 2 to 3 pounds in a day or 5 pounds in a week. (Your doctor may suggest a different range of weight gain.)
- You have new or increased swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.
Where can you learn more?
Enter Q766 in the search box to learn more about "Mitral Valve Stenosis: Care Instructions".