Mitral Regurgitation
En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition
The flow of blood pumped by the heart is controlled by one-way valves. These valves assure that blood moves in only one direction. Mitral regurgitation occurs when the heart's mitral valve leaks blood into the upper chamber from the lower chamber.

If the amount of blood that leaks is severe, mitral regurgitation can be serious. The sooner it is treated, the better the outcome.

Mitral Valve Regurgitation

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes
Mitral regurgitation may be caused by:

  • Mitral valve prolapse—Abnormal closure of the valve with protrusion of a leaflet tip backward into the left atrium, causing it to leak.
  • Infections that cause scarring of the heart valve, such as rheumatic fever or bacterial endocarditis .
  • Damage from a heart attack .
  • Several different types of congenital heart defects , which can affect mitral valve function.
  • Cardiomyopathies—Diseases that weaken the heart muscle and stretch the mitral valve.
Risk Factors
Factors that may increase your chance of developing mitral regurgitation include:

Symptoms
The speed with which symptoms progress closely follow the cause of mitral disease. Acute diseases cause rapid decline, while more chronic diseases lead to slower onset of symptoms.

Mitral regurgitation may cause:

  • Chronic, progressive fatigue
  • Shortness of breath, especially with exertion
  • Worsening shortness of breath when you lie down
  • New, associated palpitations or racing heart rate, which may suggest the development of a heart arrhythmia
Diagnosis
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Leaking heart valves usually make sounds called murmurs that can be heard through a stethoscope. You will likely be referred to a cardiologist.

Imaging tests evaluate the heart and surrounding structures. These can be done with:

An electrocardiogram (EKG) can measure your heart's electrical activity.

Treatment
Treatment options depend on the severity and history of the valve leakage and its effects on the heart’s size and function. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

Treat Underlying Disease
Correcting the underlying problem may help the mitral valve function. The treatment depends on the symptoms. In chronic and slowly progressive mitral regurgitation, medications may help reverse effects on the heart’s size. Ultimately, surgery will likely be needed. In acute and rapidly declining disease, the benefit of medications is limited to short term stabilization until emergency surgery occurs.

Surgery
There are several open heart surgical procedures that can fix leaking valves. The type chosen will depend on the valve and the expert recommendation of the surgeon. The valve may be repaired, if it is an option, or it will be replaced.

Prevention
To help reduce your chance of getting mitral regurgitation:

  • Prevent cardiovascular disease by controlling weight and blood pressure , exercising, eating heart-healthy foods, and watching your cholesterol levels
  • Avoid contact with streptococcal diseases including strep throat , pharyngitis , and scarlet fever
  • Get prompt treatment for infections
  • Avoid IV drug use
  • Limit alcohol intake



RESOURCES:
American Heart Association

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

CANADIAN RESOURCES:
Canadian Cardiovascular Society

Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

References:
Braunwald E. Valvular heart disease. In: Isselbacher K, et al. (Eds). Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 14th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1998.

Mitral regurgitation. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 2, 2014. Accessed August 20, 2014.

Shipton B and Wahba H. Valvular heart disease: review and update. Am Fam Physician. 2001;63:2201-2208.

Wood AJJ. Adverse reactions to drugs. In: Isselbacher K, et al. (Eds.) Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 14th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1998.

Wynne J, Braunwald E. The cardiomyopathies and myocarditides. In: Isselbacher K, et al. (Eds). Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicinem. 14th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1998.

Last Reviewed August 2014



Health Information Library content is provided by EBSCO Publishing, fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

 

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

 

To send comments or feedback to EBSCO's Editorial Team regarding the content please e-mail healthlibrarysupport@ebscohost.com.