Surgical treatment for valvular disease is usually postponed until symptoms can no longer be adequately controlled with medications, but before irreversible heart muscle damage has occurred. In some cases, narrowing or leakage may be relieved by surgery that repairs the patient’s own valve. In other patients, the valve may be so badly damaged that it must be replaced. There are several types of replacement valves available including a variety of tissue or mechanical valves. Your surgeon will discuss with you which type is most suitable for you. Depending on the type of valve used, the patient may be required to take blood thinners to prevent blood clots from forming on the new valve.