Living With Mitral Regurgitation
While discussing treatment options with your provider, it is important for you to monitor yourself for the signs and symptoms of worsening mitral regurgitation.
The goal is to keep you out of the hospital by preventing fluid from building up in your lungs. Fluid buildup will make you feel tired, sluggish, and short of breath. You may even have a hard time breathing at night. Some people must sleep upright or propped up with pillows if they retain too much fluid in their lungs.
All together, these symptoms are called congestive heart failure
If you notice any of them, call your provider at once. If you find that you suddenly cannot breathe at all, then call 911 for help.
Tips for Living With Mitral Regurgitation
❱❱ Take your medication as prescribed — especially the diuretics!
Diuretics, also called water pills, can be a nuisance because they cause you to urinate more often. This can interrupt your lifestyle, but remember: The fluid is better out than in!
❱❱ Keep tabs on weight changes.
Take your weight at the same time every morning after you go to the bathroom and before you eat breakfast, then record it in a written log. If you notice a weight gain of 2-3 pounds overnight or 5 pounds in a week, call your doctor or advanced care provider. He or she may want to adjust the dosage of your water pill.
❱❱ Be active.
Sometimes, patients are afraid to exert themselves and have not talked about these concerns with their providers. However, your doctors do not want you to lose muscle mass and become weak while you are waiting for a surgery or treating your symptoms with medicine. Listen to your body and try to keep up your physical activity. Even mild to moderate exercise such as walking, biking and swimming can help. A routine exercise program will also help you notice a change in symptoms such as feeling short of breath sooner than if you were inactive.
❱❱ Watch your salt intake.
Because of your leaky mitral valve, you are prone to retain too much fluid. Salt, or sodium, acts like a sponge, and water is trapped inside your body. Think of a wet soggy sponge that needs to be wrung out. This can happen to your lungs as the fluid builds up. While it’s a good idea to avoid the salt shaker, processed and restaurant foods are the main source of sodium in our diets.
Go to CardioSmart.org/Salt to learn more about how to cut salt.
❱❱ Eat a healthy diet.
Eating a heart-healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats can help prevent heart issues later in life that can contribute to mitral regurgitation.
❱❱ Keep your blood pressure under good control.
This is especially important to slow the progression of mild or moderate mitral regurgitation.
❱❱ Prevent infection.
If you have had a heart valve replaced, your provider may have you take antibiotics before a dental procedure to prevent a heart valve infection.
❱❱ See your cardiology team if your symptoms change.
❱❱ Talk with your cardiologist about treatment options that are best for you.
Published: August 2018
Medical Contributors: Nicole Carlson, PA-C; Roseanne Palmer, MSN; Laura Ross, PA-C, AACC; Amy E. Simone, PA-C, AACC; Michael Young, MD
Editorial Team Lead: Priya Kohli, MD, FACC
CardioSmart Editor-in-Chief: Martha Gulati, MD, MS, FACC, FAHA, FASPC