There are lots of ways to help you or a loved one manage the condition and stay as healthy as possible. They include exercise, eating well, support groups, and regular doctor’s visits, among other things.
Some people may need surgery, while lifestyle changes or medications are best for others. You and your doctor will work together to figure out the right plan for you.
It helps to know a few things about the condition before you learn to manage it.
Your heart has 4 chambers. The upper ones are called the atria, and the lower ones are the ventricles. The mitral valve controls the flow of blood out of the left atrium, where oxygen-rich blood comes in from the lungs and gets pumped out to the rest of the body.
It’s supposed to be a one-way “door,” letting blood out but never back in.
If it’s not working right, some blood can flow back into the left atrium. Depending on your case, you could feel very tired, and have chest pain or shortness of breath when this happens. If it’s not treated, some cases can worsen and cause bigger health problems.
Getting diagnosed is the first step. Your doctor has several ways to get a better idea of how your condition has progressed:
- Exercise stress test, in which you are monitored while on a treadmill
- Chest X-ray
- CT scan, which uses many X-ray images to create a picture of your heart
- Echocardiogram, which uses sound waves to make an image of the beating heart, similar to an ultrasound test
- Cardiac catheterization, in which a thin, flexible tube is guided from a blood vessel to your heart so the doctor can do tests
You may get follow-up tests from time to time, depending on your case.
Managing Your Condition
No matter what stage your regurgitation is in, there are things you can do at home to manage it. Your doctor may bring up many of the following:
Medication: No medication can directly stop the regurgitation. But medicine might help with other issues it’s causing, such as high blood pressure. Be sure to follow the instructions and talk with your doctor if you feel side effects.
Keep your appointments: You need to make your health a top priority. That means putting visits to your doctor at the top of your to-do list.
Your doctor might recommend at least two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week and a limit on the amount of sitting you do.
Stress: It’s important to learn how to cope with stress in a healthy way. It can trigger a heart attack or chest pain in some people. Medication (prescribed by a doctor), exercise, and relaxation therapy are a few ways to reduce tension.
You may find you need help in learning to live with this condition. Maybe you just need someone to talk to.
There are support groups that can help you handle the emotional side of a diagnosis. Family and friends are often a good place to turn for support.
You can also ask your doctor about other support options in your city. She often has people on staff who can get you started.