Mitral Valve Stenosis: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Your heart is a muscular pump that has four chambers and four valves. The valves open and close to keep blood flowing in the proper direction through your heart. The mitral valve connects the heart's upper-left chamber (atrium) to the lower-left chamber (ventricle).

Mitral valve stenosis means that a heart valve is stiff and fails to open as wide as it would normally. As a result, blood does not flow properly between the left chambers of your heart. This limits your heart's ability to pump blood through the rest of the body.

Treatment includes 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 or nurse call line 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 or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats, and low-fat or non-fat dairy foods. Limit sodium, sugar, and alcohol.
  • Be active. Ask your doctor what type and level of exercise is safe for you. If your stenosis is severe, you will likely need to restrict your level of activity. Walking may be a good choice. You also may want to swim, bike, or do other activities.
  • 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.
  • Avoid colds and flu. Get a pneumococcal vaccine shot. If you have had one before, ask your doctor if you need another dose. Get a flu vaccine every year.
  • 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 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 heart attack. These may include:
    • Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
    • Sweating.
    • 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 light-headedness.
    • A fast or irregular pulse.
    After you call 911, the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength or 2 to 4 low-dose aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.
  • You have severe shortness of breath.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • 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.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are short of breath and cough up foamy, pink mucus.
  • You feel very tired.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have new or increased shortness of breath.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have sudden weight gain, such as 1.3 kilograms or more in 2 to 3 days.
  • You have increased swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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