A normally functioning mitral valve serves is like a door that allows blood to flow from the heart's left atrium into the left ventricle. Mitral regurgitation is the diagnosis made when this valve leaks as the heart is trying to send blood out to the body, resulting in the backward flow of blood into the top chamber (left atrium) and lungs. There are many reasons for the mitral valve to become leaky including myxomatous disease, infection, enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy), complication of rheumatic fever, and complication from a heart attack.
Symptoms of mitral regurgitation include:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling in the ankles
- Trouble breathing when laying flat
Mitral regurgitation is diagnosed with:
- Physical exam to listen for a heart murmur during the contracting phase of the cardiac cycle (systole)
- Echocardiography, to identify the leaky mitral valve and measure its severity
- Transesophageal echocardiography to clarify the reason for the leakiness of the mitral valve
Treatment options for mitral regurgitation include:
- Mitral valve replacement, with either a tissue or mechanical valve
- Mitral valve repair, the optimal treatment for severe mitral stenosis because it allows preservation of the mitral valve support structures. Our surgeons will generally try to repair the valve if possible.
- MitraClip, a less invasive repair option we can offer some patients with severe mitral regurgitation who are interested in participating in the ongoing COAPT clinical trial
- Medical management with medications to treat symptoms to include diuretics to remove excess fluid