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What You Should Know About Mitral Valve Regurgitation

What is Mitral Valve Regurgitation?


Mitral valve regurgitation is a condition commonly referred to as leaky heart valve. If you have this condition, your heart’s valve will have an irregular anatomical structure that makes your blood move or drip in the wrong way.


Mitral valve regurgitation will cause your blood to leak in the reverse direction from left ventricle to right atrium. If the condition is serious, your blood will not flow effectively through your heart or your body making you feel exhausted or short of breath.


Causes of Mitral Valve Regurgitation


Mitral Valve Regurgitation can be caused by complications in the mitral valve known as primary mitral valve regurgitation. Complications in the left ventricle are called secondary or functional mitral valve regurgitation.  



  • Mitral valve prolapse:

In this condition, the two valve flaps of the mitral valve do not close properly, but instead bulge (prolapse) into the left atrium. This is a common heart defect also known as click-murmur syndrome, Barlow's syndrome or floppy valve syndrome.


  • Torn tissue cords:

Over the course of time, tissue cords that connect the flaps of the mitral valve to the heart wall may wear out, especially in the condition of mitral valve prolapse. A tear in the tissue cord and injury to the chest can also lead to leakage in the mitral valve. This will require surgery to repair the mitral valve.    


  • Rheumatic fever:

Rheumatic fever is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that usually follows a strep throat infection. It causes inflammation in the connective tissues of the heart, joints, blood vessels and tissues. It can also impact the mitral valve causing mitral valve regurgitation.   


A heart attack can affect the mitral valve, consequently impacting valve functioning. Severe damage resulting from a heart attack can lead to the sudden onset of an extreme case of mitral valve regurgitation.



Medical Care for Mitral Valve Regurgitation


Your level of medical care for Mitral Valve Regurgitation usually depends on the severity of your condition and whether you are showing signs of physical distress. If it is moderate leakage, then it does not require medical care.


Heart surgery may be required to change or fix your valve if you have severe leakage. If you do not get the required treatment, a severe condition could lead to heart failure or heart problems like irregular heartbeats. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you would still need to be examined by a cardiologist or a specialist to decide if early intervention is needed.


How to Recognise Warning Signs


Mitral Valve Regurgitation can go unnoticed as the symptoms are not always overtly visible. However, the condition might manifest in your body in the following ways:


  • Uncommon heart murmurs that can be detected with a stethoscope
  • Problems with breathing especially after physical activity or when lying down
  • Exhaustion
  • Quick irregular heartbeats
  • Bloated ankles and feet


Mitral valve regurgitation usually advances slowly and your doctor might test your heartbeat for irregularity or abnormal pace. On the other hand, it is also possible that the condition advances quickly and you feel extreme symptoms and signs.


How Does Mitral Valve Regurgitation Happen?


The structure of your heart is divided into 4 valves that ensure blood moves in the correct way. These include the mitral valve, pulmonary valve, tricuspid valve and the aortic valve. Each of these valves open and close every time your heart beats. When these valves don’t function properly, the blood flow through your heart becomes irregular leading to health issues in other parts of your body as well.


When to Consult a Specialist?


If your general physician detects an irregularity in your heartbeat with a stethoscope, it is advisable for you to make an appointment with a heart specialist.


Dr. Anil Bhan
Cardiac Care
Meet The Doctor
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