Although medications cannot “?x” a diseased valve, they can help ease your symptoms, reduce the load on your heart as it works to compen- sate for a damaged valve, and regulate your heart’s rhythm if it is dis- turbed by abnormal blood ?ow.
Digitalis (digoxin) is frequently prescribed for a person with valve disease to strengthen the contraction of the heart muscle and slow the heart rate. It is also used to treat congestive heart failure and some types of arrhythmia such as atrial ?utter or atrial ?brillation. Derived from the foxglove plant, digitalis is a powerful drug that has been used medically for more than 200 years. Your doctor will discuss with you exactly how much digitalis you are to take, and it is important to follow instructions carefully. Other medicines you take can interact with digitalis, so be sure to tell your doctor about all other prescription and over-the-counter drugs you use. Also, be sure your doctor knows about any allergies you have or other medical problems such as diseases of the thyroid, liver, lung, or kidney.
Your doctor also may prescribe diuretics (water pills), which promote the removal of ?uids by the kidneys. This medication decreases blood pressure and eases the workload on your heart. Blood tests may be needed to check for electrolyte loss from the diuretics.
Anticoagulant medications help prevent blood clots, particularly if you have an irregular heart rhythm (atrial ?brillation) or have had heart valve surgery and have a mechanical replacement valve . Beta-blockers can regulate your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. Calcium channel blockers alter the muscular contractions of your heart and lower your blood pressure. By easing the workload on your heart, these drugs may help postpone the need for heart valve surgery, or enable you to avoid it altogether.