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Mitral Valve Regurgitation

What is mitral valve regurgitation?

The mitral valve helps to control the flow of blood from the left atrium to the left ventricle. The mitral valve is made up of two leaflets that open and close to allow blood to flow.  When these leaflets are not closing completely, a patient has mitral valve regurgitation (MR).  Because the valve leaflets cannot close all the way, blood backs up (regurgitates) into the upper area of the heart, causing the heart to work harder to pump the extra blood.

Mild regurgitation often doesn’t cause problems. The symptoms can include a heart murmur, shortness of breath and fatigue.  In fact, a lot of people have it for many years without experiencing any complications. But, if the valve leaflets further weaken and the regurgitation becomes severe, it can weaken the heart and lead to heart failure.

Mitral valve regurgitation symptoms

People who have mitral valve regurgitation may experience the following symptoms, which can range from mild to severe:

  • Chest pain
  • Heart murmur
  • Shortness of breath with activity or lying flat
  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Swollen feet or ankles
What causes mitral valve regurgitation?

Several risk factors can increase the chances of developing mitral valve regurgitation.

  • History of mitral valve prolapse or stenosis
  • Heart attack
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Use of certain medications
  • Infections like endocarditis or rheumatic fever
  • Abnormal valves at birth
  • Age
Mitral valve regurgitation treatment

Your doctor will watch your health closely if you have mild mitral valve regurgitation. This would include routine examinations and having an ECHO (echocardiogram) performed. You may take medicine for other health problems that are caused by mitral regurgitation. If the disease progresses into a more severe form, the valve may need to be repaired or replaced.

Your physician may refer you to the Valve Clinic at Parkview Heart Institute where the care team will complete a physical exam and personal history to identify health conditions that may be contributing to mitral valve regurgitation. The team will discuss which therapies will be most appropriate for you.

While treatment options are dependent on the severity of the disease, the goal is to improve the heart function, thereby reducing symptoms and avoiding MVR related complications.

  • Medications: Help manage your mitral regurgitation symptoms
  • Surgery: Repair or replacement of the faulty valve may be needed. To assist those with more severe cases of MR, the Parkview Heart Institute offers mitral valve clipping in addition to other surgical options to repair or replace the valve. Mitral valve clipping is a minimally invasive procedure in which a narrow catheter is fed up to the heart through an artery in the groin. The catheter is guided through the septum, which divides the top two chambers of the heart. This procedure uses clips that are attached to the leaflets within the mitral valve. The leaflets are clipped together, resulting in improved proper blood flow and reduced symptoms.
  • Transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVr): TMVr delivers a treatment option for patients who are not good surgical candidates, or for whom surgery is not the best option. Open-heart surgery to repair or replace the mitral valve is generally recommended, but it is not an option for many patients.

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