You should take only the medications that your doctor has prescribed or approved. Over-the-counter drugs, such as aspirin, should not be taken without first checking with your doctor. If you have received a mechanical valve, medications called anticoagulants or blood-thinners (usually the drug is Coumading) may be prescribed to prevent blood clots from forming.

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These medications work by prolonging the time it takes for your blood to clot. Anticoagulants must be carefully monitored by taking a blood test called a prothrombin time (protime) or an INR. Your doctor will prescribe a dose to keep the time or INR within certain parameters. The medication is usually taken once daily. It should be taken at the same time each day. It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed. Your doctor also will tell you how often to have your time checked.

From time to time your medication may need to be adjusted based on your test. Anticoagulant medication limits your body’s normal ability to stop bleeding. For this reason, you should be especially careful about activities that could produce cuts or bruises. Any blow to the head could cause serious injury. If this occurs, you should be observed carefully for the onset of dizziness, headache, weakness or numbness in an extremity, any change in vision, or unconsciousness. Call your physician with any concern you may have.

Anticoagulation

People diagnosed with heart valve disease may be prescribed a medication that will help them to decrease the potential for any further risks and problems and to help them relieve symptoms. Medications can serve a very important purpose most of the time but the important thing to know is that a heart valve can start leaking. Unfortunately, there is no medication that can stop a valve from leaking.

Therefore, you should pay regular visits to your doctor and check the situation. Likewise, if a valve is too tightly constricted, there is no medication that can open it. Regardless of all this, the medication is still the best course of action absolutely. This is especially appropriate for persons who have mild valve conditions or who cannot undergo heart surgery. If medications cannot protect the heart properly, a valve replacement surgery is the only option.

Anticoagulation Safety

If you are taking anticoagulants, you should tell your dentist or doctor that you are taking anticoagulant medications. It is sometimes necessary to adjust the dosage or stop the medication before a procedure to prevent excessive bleeding.

Prevention of Infection

Talk with your physician or surgeon about the prevention of infection. In order to prevent infection, it’s important that you receive preventative antibiotic treatment before any dental work (including cleaning), any urinary procedure (such as cystoscopy), examination of the colon, or implantation of any other medical device.

During these procedures, bacteria can be released into the bloodstream and cause an infection called bacterial endocarditis. Antibiotics are used to prevent this type of infection. Consult your doctor if any signs of infection, including any superficial skin infections, should occur.