Mitral valve regurgitation is a condition that occurs when the heart’s mitral valve doesn’t close properly. Normally the mitral valve allows blood to flow from the heart’s left atrium, one chamber of the heart, into the left ventricle, another chamber, and then it closes. If the valve is regurgitating, it doesn’t close tightly and blood leaks back into the atrium. This causes the heart to overcompensate, working harder to pump blood to the rest of the body.

Causes of Mitral Valve Regurgitation

There are several causes of mitral valve regurgitation:

  • Mitral valve prolapse – Other times patients suffer a valve prolapseprior to regurgitation. In the case of a prolapse, the valves’ flaps or leaflets fall backward into the left atrium.
  • Heart attack – A cardiac event, like a heart attack, can cause the heart tissue around the valve to weaken.
  • Rheumatic fever – This is an inflammatory disease that can occur when strep throat or scarlet fever isn’t taken care of properly. This disease can cause a wide range of conditions that include mitral valve regurgitation.
  • Cardiomyopathy – A condition that causes the heart muscle to thicken and harden, cardiomyopathy can cause several structural heart issues, including mitral valve regurgitation.
  • Endocarditis – This is when inflammation of the inner lining of the heart’s chamber occurs. This infection can damage the valve and cause mitral valve regurgitation.

Symptoms of Mitral Valve Regurgitation

Patients suffering from mitral valve regurgitation often experience symptoms like difficulty breathing, fatigue, heart palpitations, and swelling in the legs and feet.  These symptoms can indicate a variety of cardiovascular issues, so it’s important to schedule an appointment with a cardiologist  if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Often doctors can use a stethoscope to identify heart murmurs caused by the leaking valve. An echocardiogram allows doctors to visually examine the heart while in motion. Often x-rays and MRIs are also used in the diagnosis process.

Treatment for Mitral Valve Regurgitation

  • Regular observation and maintenance – For mild cases of mitral regurgitation, a doctor may suggest regular checkups as well as treatments for underlying conditions.
  • Mitral valve surgery – For severe cases, surgery is often recommended. We offer both robotic and open heart mitral valve repairs and replacements in which the valve is fixed or replaced using a prosthetic device or donated organ. Learn more about our nationally renowned minimally invasive and robotic valve repair program.
  • MitraClip – MitraClip is a minimally invasive procedure in which a small device is inserted through a catheter via the femoral artery. It is then attached to the mitral valve allowing it to close properly. Typically, a surgical approach is considered first and if that is not feasible, MitraClip will then be considered. A patient’s anatomy is evaluated to determine if they would be a good candidate for this procedure.

Why Choose Georgia Heart Institute?

Whenever it comes to valve disease or structural issues of the heart, Georgia Heart Institute offers superior expertise and care through our comprehensive program. All of our patients with valve disorders have access to a multidisciplinary team that includes cardiologists specializing in catheter-based minimally invasive procedures, nationally-renowned cardiovascular surgeons, heart failure specialists and electrophysiologists.

Valve diseases often have a complex impact on the heart and a significant impact on our patients’ quality of life and energy levels. We can help determine the safest and most effective pathway to a longer life and a healthier, happier lifestyle.

Learn more about our Structural Heart Center today.