Mitral valve regurgitation is a problem that happens when the mitral valve does not close tightly enough. The closed valve lets blood leak (regurgitate) from the lower chamber of the heart back into the upper chamber. Your heart has to work harder to pump this extra blood.
Primary mitral regurgitation happens when there is a problem with the shape of the valve. The shape is not normal.
Secondary regurgitation happens when another heart problem affects the heart muscle, typically in the lower left chamber of the heart. Changes in the heart muscle cause the valve to not close tightly. The shape of the valve is typically normal.
Small leaks usually aren't a problem. But if the leak becomes severe over time, it may lead to heart failure.
The regurgitation usually develops over time (chronic mitral regurgitation). But sometimes it happens suddenly (acute mitral regurgitation). This is an emergency.
Primary mitral valve regurgitation may be caused by problems like mitral valve prolapse or calcium buildup on the mitral valve. Secondary regurgitation may be caused by coronary artery disease or heart failure. Acute regurgitation is caused by a problem that happens all of a sudden, such as a heart attack.
Symptoms of chronic mitral valve regurgitation may take decades to appear. They include being tired or short of breath when you're active. A heart murmur might be the first sign your doctor notices. Acute mitral regurgitation happens suddenly and is an emergency. Symptoms include severe shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and weakness, and chest pain.
When your doctor suspects that you have mitral valve regurgitation, you will be asked about your past health and have a physical exam. To diagnose the problem and check your heart, you'll likely have an echocardiogram. You may have other tests to help your doctor see how well your heart is working.
For chronic mitral regurgitation, you may take medicines to treat problems caused by the regurgitation or to treat a heart problem that is causing it. Your doctor will check your heart regularly. You may choose to repair or replace the valve. For acute regurgitation, you likely need valve repair or replacement right away.
Symptoms of chronic mitral valve regurgitation may take decades to appear. They include being tired or short of breath when you are active.
Because you may not have symptoms, a specific type of heart murmur might be the first sign your doctor notices.
If you develop heart failure, you may have other symptoms. They include:
Acute mitral valve regurgitation is an emergency. Symptoms come on quickly. They include severe shortness of breath, fast heart rate, lightheadedness, weakness, confusion, and chest pain.
Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you have:
Call a doctor now if you have:
Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. If you don't have symptoms of MR, your doctor will still want to see you for regular checkups. Your doctor will want to see you as soon as you have symptoms for the first time. If your doctor has talked with you about what to do if you have symptoms, follow your doctor's instructions. Contact your doctor if your symptoms get worse.
When your doctor suspects that you have mitral valve regurgitation, you will be asked about your past health and have a physical exam.
To diagnose the problem and check your heart, you'll likely have an echocardiogram.
Your doctor may also order tests to check your heart. These tests may include an electrocardiogram, MRI, and cardiac catheterization.
Treatment for chronic mitral valve regurgitation includes regular tests to check how well the valve and the heart are working. You may take medicine to treat problems caused by the regurgitation. Or you may take medicine to treat a heart problem that's causing it. Your doctor will likely recommend a heart-healthy lifestyle.
If your condition becomes severe, you may choose to have the valve repaired or replaced. You and your doctor can talk about a few things to decide. These things include the cause of the regurgitation, the anatomy of the valve, if you have symptoms, how well your heart is pumping blood, and your feelings about having surgery or a procedure.
Treatment for acute mitral valve regurgitation occurs while you are in the hospital or the emergency room. You need surgery right away to repair or replace the valve.
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If you have severe chronic mitral valve regurgitation, you may choose to have the mitral valve repaired or replaced. The goal is for blood to flow more normally through the valve. Valve repair may be done with surgery or a catheter procedure. Valve replacement is done with a surgery. You and your doctor can decide if repair or replacement is right for you.
Valve repair may be done to help the valve work better. Or the valve may be replaced. Repair or replacement helps prevent damage to the heart that can be caused by the regurgitation.
Valve repair or replacement may be done to help relieve symptoms, help you live longer, and improve your quality of life. Repair or replacement cannot cure secondary mitral regurgitation because it is caused by another heart problem.
With acute mitral regurgitation, urgent repair or replacement surgery is usually needed.
Current as of: August 31, 2020
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