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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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My mother has a very mild leaky heart valve, what can she do ?

My mom was recently told she has a very mild leaky heart valve no meds were prescribed, what should she do? She was told she may need antibiotics when she goes to the dentist , but that it was so mild she may not have to. My question is should we have this looked at more , she has no symptoms, but is a nervouse person. Once this was told to her she got panicky. What can we do or should we do to keep up on this? I just want to put her at ease, any help would be great went to webmd , but sometimes they just give you too much information your overwhelmed.
Thu, 17 Dec 2009
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What valve are we talking about? Your mother has valvular regurgitation or insufficiency, which means leakage. Now, there is something that many people need to understand about regurgitation. We could go do an echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) on a normal person and we would probably see traces of regurgitation. It is normal for everyone throughout their life to have some little form of regurgitation, almost never dangerous to any extent. Exercise should only be limited in severe regurgitation and something so trivial as what this sounds would not cause anything to happen to her. Medicine is not prescribed for small amounts of this as it is not dangerous. Since she does appear to have a valvular problem, an ECG and echocardiogram should performed every year just to check. I will say that regurgitation is not fixable by angiogram. It would require medicine or valve replacement/repair. The chances of a trivial regurgitation growing into moderate or severe in an adult with no congenital heart disease (heart problems at birth) present or in the past is very low. If you could get the echocardiogram report pressures and measurements of the valve, I could help you more. About the dentistry, that is called antibiotic prophylaxis. People with certain valve defects must take this before cleaning or dental surgery to prevent infection of a tooth or gum going into the blood stream and going to a defected valve and causing endocarditis, which is essentially a heart infection that requires hospitalization. This is rare though but make sure your mother's dentist is aware of the valvular problem and see if your mother's doctor can give you a American Heart Association card for that. Have a good one!
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