Mitral Valve Disease
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Mitral valve disease is a type of valve disease that occurs when your heart’s mitral valve, which separates your heart’s two left chambers, fails to either close or open properly.
Mild mitral valve disease can be treated with lifestyle changes to improve overall cardiac health, including lowering your blood pressure. More severe cases of the disease may require repair or replacement of the mitral valve.
Our Approach to Treating Mitral Valve Disease
Using advanced imaging technology and the latest surgical techniques, our cardiovascular surgeons and cardiologists work together to repair mitral valve damage or replace the valve. You can trust our doctors and their teams to deliver exceptional care and the most effective treatment option for your specific condition and unique needs.
As often as possible, we aim to treat your condition using catheter-based treatment approaches, such as mitral balloon valvuloplasty and MitraClip therapy.
Types of Mitral Valve Disease
If left untreated, mitral valve disease can ultimately lead to fluid buildup in the lungs as well as atrial fibrillation, reducing your heart’s ability to pump properly.
There are two types of mitral valve disease:
Mitral valve regurgitation is the most common heart valve disorder. It occurs when blood flows back through the mitral valve, which can increase the blood pressure in your heart — causing it to enlarge and increasing pressure in your pulmonary veins. Severe mitral regurgitation can cause fluid to build up in the lungs.
Mitral regurgitation is most often caused by mitral valve prolapse, in which the leaflets that make up the valve bulge into the upper-left heart chamber (atrium) during ventricle contraction.
Also called mitral valve stenosis, mitral stenosis involves narrowing of the valve opening — which restricts blood from flowing through the left side of your heart.
Mitral valve stenosis typically results from rheumatic fever, which is now relatively rare in the U.S. However rheumatic mitral stenosis can be a significant problem in those who have immigrated from endemic regions of the world. As you age, mitral stenosis may occur from a buildup of calcium within and immediately around the leaflets that make up your mitral valve.
How Is Mitral Valve Disease Diagnosed?
Our doctors use several tests and procedures to diagnose mitral valve disease, including:
- Physical examination
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Chest X-ray
- Echocardiogram (also called an echo)
- Cardiac catheterization
- Cardiac stress testing
- Cardiac CT
- Cardiac MRI
What Are the Symptoms of Mitral Valve Disease?
People with mild valve disease may not have any symptoms. When mitral regurgitation or mitral stenosis is more severe, the following symptoms may occur:
- Palpitations (sensation of feeling your heartbeat)
- Shortness of breath during activity
- Weakness or fatigue
- Swelling of the legs, ankles or feet
- Chest pain or pressure, especially during activity
How Is Mitral Valve Disease Treated?
Mild symptoms of mitral valve disease can be treated with medications to reduce blood pressure, improve the heart’s ability to pump blood or to deal with infection. If mild, mitral stenosis often can be treated with medication alone.
Surgical repair or replacement of the valve or other advanced techniques are usually necessary for more severe symptoms. The two main surgical treatment options are:
- Mitral valve repair – preferred over replacement, when possible
- Mitral valve replacement – involves removing the damaged valve and replacing it with an artificial mechanical or tissue valve
In some cases, our experts perform a nonsurgical procedure called mitral balloon valvuloplasty to widen the mitral valve — allowing for better blood flow.
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Advanced Heart Murmur Resolved with Successful Mitral Heart Valve Repair: Kurt’s Story
Kurt Salziger underwent robotic heart surgery to treat a heart murmur known as a prolapsed mitral valve. Read Kurt’s story >