Mitral regurgitation is the most common heart valve disorder. It involves the mitral valve, which separates the upper and lower chambers on the left side of your heart. The mitral valve helps blood on the left side of your heart to flow in one direction.
If the mitral valve doesn't close completely as your heart pumps out blood, blood can flow backward from the valve (regurgitation) into the upper heart chamber (atrium). This restricts blood flow to the rest of your body. If untreated, mitral regurgitation will continue to strain your heart and lungs. Because your heart has to work harder, it may raise your risk of irregular heartbeats, pulmonary hypertension, stroke and heart failure.
Mitral regurgitation can begin suddenly or happen after a heart attack. Other diseases or problems can weaken or damage your mitral valve or surrounding heart tissue. Regurgitation may progress slowly over time and can become chronic (long-term).
Risk Factors for Mitral Valve Regurgitation
Some conditions can contribute to or raise your risk of mitral valve regurgitation, including:
- Coronary heart disease (narrowing of vessels that carry blood and oxygen to your heart)
- High blood pressure
- Mitral valve prolapse (valve doesn’t close properly)
- Syphilis (bacterial infection transmitted sexually or at birth)
- Marfan syndrome (connective tissue disorder)
- Rheumatic heart disease (complication of untreated strep throat)
- Swelling of the left lower heart chamber
- Past use of certain medications, such as “Fen-Phen” diet pills, which are no longer marketed in the U.S.
Symptoms of Mitral Valve Regurgitation
Mitral valve regurgitation or may not have any noticeable symptoms, so expert evaluation is important. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations (feeling your heartbeat), especially when lying on your left side
- Swelling of your legs and feet
- Heart failure symptoms (fatigue, chest pain, difficulty breathing and fainting)
Diagnosis of Mitral Valve Regurgitation
Your cardiologist may perform several tests to diagnose mitral valve regurgitation, including:
- Listening to your heart with a stethoscope
- Using an echocardiogram (ultrasound), which allows them to get a close look at your heart and mitral valve
- Taking a chest X-ray, which allows them to see the size and shape of your heart and evaluate your lungs
- Evaluating for symptoms of congestive heart failure, such as shortness of breath or fatigue, or other related heart conditions
Treatment for Mitral Valve Regurgitation
Therapies for mild mitral valve regurgitation may involve medication to help with symptoms and surgery to repair or replace the mitral valve. It’s best to repair a valve to preserve tissue. However, if it is too damaged, you may need mitral valve replacement surgery.
When possible, surgeons will use minimally invasive procedures, which use advanced technologies and surgical tools. Surgeons may use an expandable balloon or other techniques to open the valve and improve blood flow. For more complex conditions, surgeons may perform a combination of procedures in high-tech, fully equipped hybrid surgical suites.
At Orlando Health Heart Valve Center, our team will evaluate your condition, collaborate across disciplines as needed, and develop the best treatment plan for you.
To contact us or schedule an appointment, call 321.841.4324.