The mitral valve is a heart valve located between the left atrium and left ventricle chambers of the heart. The mitral valve has of two flaps called leaflets that open and close with the squeezing and relaxation of the heart. A normal-functioning mitral valve helps ensure that blood flows in one direction when the heart pumps blood from the heart to the rest of the body. If the flaps (or leaflets) fail to close completely, then blood leaks backward in the wrong direction towards the lungs. This is called mitral regurgitation (MR). Significant MR can cause symptoms when fluid builds up in the lungs.
Some of the main causes of MR include:
Symptoms usually depend on the severity of mitral regurgitation, which ranges from mild to moderate to severe. They include:
If you or your doctor think you may have MR, your provider will use a stethoscope to listen for a heart murmur. If a heart murmur is detected, the next step is an echocardiogram (or heart ultrasound) to determine if MR is present, as well as the severity and cause of your MR.
It is very important to discuss any symptoms of MR with your physician.
There are two types of MR–Primary (degenerative) and Secondary (functional). It is important to know which type of MR you have because your treatment options can be different.
This form of MR is due to a problem with the mitral valve. It occurs when the valve leaflet(s) and/or chords stretch (called prolapse) or tear (called flail). Because of this, the leaflets are unable to close tightly, causing MR.
This form of MR is due to a problem with the chambers of the heart where the mitral valve is attached. Typically, the heart chambers around the mitral valve are larger than normal or not functioning properly. This dysfunction can cause the mitral valve leaflets to be pulled away from each other and not close properly, leading to mitral MR.
Heart failure is a very common cause of this form of MR. Many patients, about 40%, who suffer from heart failure will also have moderate to severe MR.
One of our primary goals is to make every step of your experience as efficient and compassionate as possible. In general, we try to evaluate you within two weeks of your referral and to answer all your questions promptly.