Thumbnail image of: Artificial Heart Valves: Illustration
Thumbnail image of: Circulatory System: Illustration
Thumbnail image of: Heart, Interior View: Illustration
Thumbnail image of: Mitral Valve, Normal and Prolapsed: Illustration
Thumbnail image of: Normal and Diseased Heart Valves: Illustration

Heart Valve Disorders Discharge Information

What is a heart valve disorder?

The heart has four valves that work together to keep blood flowing in the right direction. They are the tricuspid, pulmonic, mitral, and aortic valves. They are made of thin tissue and open and close easily.

A heart valve disorder means that one or more of your heart valves does not work properly. It may either not open all the way or be unable to close completely. When a valve opening narrows (called stenosis), the valve does not open all the way, so the heart has to work harder to pump blood to the body. When a valve does not close completely between heartbeats, blood can move backward in the heart (called regurgitation). This means the heart must work harder to pump more blood than normal with each beat, which may put too much strain on your heart. A valve may not be working well because it is damaged by disease or because it was abnormal at birth.

Your valve may have been repaired, or replaced with tissue from a cow, pig, or donated human tissue (biological valve), or by man-made materials (mechanical valve).

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

How long it takes to get better depends on your treatment, how well you recover, your overall health, and any complications you may have. It is important to maintain good health in order to prevent further complications.


  • Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
    • Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
    • Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
    • Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
    • Talk to your provider before you use any other medicines, including nonprescription medicines.
  • Your provider may prescribe medicine to:
    • Reduce fluid build-up and swelling in the body
    • Prevent blood clots
    • Reduce blood pressure, slow the heart rate, and reduce the workload of the heart.
    • Help your heart muscle beat stronger and regularly
    • Treat or prevent an infection
    • Replace minerals your body loses when taking certain medicines used to treat your condition
  • If you have had surgery, to care for your incision:
    • Keep your incision clean.
    • If you are told to change your dressing on your incision, wash your hands before changing the dressing and after disposing of the dressing.


  • Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments.
  • Keep appointments for any routine testing you may need.
  • Talk with your provider about any questions or fears you have.

Diet, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Changes

  • Follow the treatment plan your provider prescribes.
  • You may need to make changes in some of the foods you eat. Ask your provider about the benefits of talking to a dietician to learn what you need in a healthy diet.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if there are any foods or medicines you should avoid.
  • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine light yellow in color, unless you are told to limit fluids.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Lose weight if you need to and keep a healthy weight.
  • If you have high blood pressure, make sure your blood pressure is under control.
  • Find ways to make your life less stressful.
  • Exercise as your provider recommends.
  • Tell all your other healthcare providers about your heart valve problem.

Call emergency medical services or 911 if you have new or worsening:

  • Chest pain or pressure, squeezing, or fullness in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back (may feel like indigestion or heartburn)
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders, or in your back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Trouble breathing
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat for no known reason
  • Along with the previous symptoms, feeling very tired, faint, or sick to your stomach

If you have any of these symptoms, do not drive yourself.

Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:

  • Fever higher than 101.5° F (38.6° C)
  • Feeling like your heart is beating too fast, too slow, or skipping beats
  • Sudden weight gain of 3 pounds in one day or 5 pounds in a week
  • Swelling in your feet, ankles, or legs, or abdominal bloating, or swollen hands or face
  • Chest discomfort when lying down
  • Fainting
  • Signs of infection around your surgical wound if you had surgery. These include:
    • The area around your wound is more red or painful
    • Your wound area is very warm to touch
    • You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from the wound area
    • You have chills or muscle aches

Ask your healthcare provider about any medicine, treatment, or information that you do not understand.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-07-30
Last reviewed: 2014-07-31
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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