(NewsUSA) -A diagnosis of mitral valve disease may seem daunting at first, but taking a team approach and working with your doctor for regular monitoring is the best way to ensure your ongoing health.
Mitral valve disease occurs when the valve between the upper left chamber of the heart (left atrium) and the lower left chamber of the heart (left ventricle) does not function properly; it either fails to close completely.
Mitral valve disease, in severe cases, can lead to pulmonary congestion or heart palpitations, often due to atrial fibrillation.
Staying in regular contact with your health care professional is the best way to ensure your continued health and management of mitral valve disease, according to the American Heart Association.
And don't neglect regular doctor visits.
"Mitral valve repair is often recommended in asymptomatic patients with severe mitral regurgitation to prevent long-term complications, and it can be life saving in symptomatic patients. That is why it is so critical to evaluate the severity of the disease and determine if surgery is the right choice," says Robert O. Bonow, M.D., professor of cardiology at Northwestern University and past president of the American Heart Association.
Some key ways to take care of your heart health include:
- Be part of the team. Regular visits to your cardiologist help ensure that your heart health care plan is up-to-date. Ask your cardiologist questions, such as what type of mitral valve disease you have, whether you are at increased risk for emergency conditions, whether you might need surgery, and if so, what are the benefits of different types of surgeries (mitral valve replacement vs. mitral valve repair).
- Be honest. Don't hesitate to communicate with your doctor about any new symptoms or concerns. Don't fear that you are overreacting. The more information you share, the more your doctor can customize your care.
- Be informed. If your doctor recommends surgery for a mitral valve issue, learn about the procedures and understand your options. Ask your surgeon about his or her experience in performing mitral valve repairs and replacements, and discuss the pros and cons of each.
For more information and to find recognized Mitral Valve Repair Reference Centers, visit heart.org/MitralValveCommunity.