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Normal Mitral Valve


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Mitral Valve Regurgitation


Images courtesy of Abbott

Mitral Valve Disease

Your valves are a critical component to your overall cardiac health. Your heart is comprised of muscle (myocardium), blood vessels (coronary arteries), and four valves (aortic, mitral, pulmonic and tricuspid). If any part of your heart is not performing at an optimal level -- especially your valves -- it can affect the other portions of your heart.

 About 5 million Americans are diagnosed with valve disease each year. Valve disease occurs when one of the four valves in the heart is not functioning properly. This can cause a heart murmur, which is an extra sound heard during the heartbeat.  If you have been told you have a heart murmur, it’s important to be evaluated to determine the cause of this condition.   If left untreated, mitral valve disease can increase your risk for atrial fibrillation, heart failure, stroke and sudden cardiac arrest.


Types of valve disease.

There are two types of valve disease, regurgitant and stenotic.  Both result in an increased workload on the heart, affecting its ability to supply the body with the blood circulation it requires to function properly.

 Regurgitant valve disease a condition in which the valve does not close properly and allows blood to flow backward in the heart. 

Stenotic valve disease a condition in which the opening of the valve is restricted and fails to open completely significantly interfering with forward blood flow.


Signs and Symptoms of Mitral Valve Disease

Often, patients with mitral valve disease experience no symptoms; however, when symptoms occur, they often arise gradually over time. These symptoms can include:

  • Heart murmur
  • Shortness of breath, especially with exertion or when lying down
  • Fatigue, especially during times of increased activity
  • Cough, especially at night or when lying down
  • Heart palpitations — sensations of a rapid, fluttering heartbeat
  • Swollen feet or ankles
  • Lightheadedness or feeling faint