Common Problems that Affect the Mitral Valve
The mitral valve is one of the four valves within your heart that regulates the flow of blood from one chamber of the heart to another. The valve itself consists of two flaps connected to the heart muscle via small tendons. If your mitral valve becomes damaged or diseased, you may require surgery to restore function. If left untreated, much more serious heart problems can occur.
In this brief article, we’ll review three common conditions that affect the mitral valve. If you are experiencing any symptoms mentioned in this article or are just concerned about the health of your heart, don’t hesitate to reach out to Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC — one of the best Tampa cardiac specialists.
Mitral regurgitation (MR), also known as mitral insufficiency, is a condition that occurs when the mitral valve does not close properly, causing blood to leak backward into the left atrium and lungs. This increases blood volume and blood pressure, resulting in increased pressure in the pulmonary veins and congestion in the lungs.
Symptoms of this condition may vary. If you have mild to moderate mitral regurgitation, you may never experience any symptoms. Those who do experience symptoms have reported coughing, swelling of the legs and feet, shortness of breath during exertion, and dizziness. Although this condition is often developed due to wear and tear on the heart over time, MR can also be caused by certain heart conditions such as:
Congenital heart disease
In mitral stenosis, the flaps of the valve become stiff, thick, or fuse together entirely. This results in a narrowed valve opening that prevents the valve from being able to open and close properly. Blood is then restricted from flowing into the left ventricle, causing the left atrium to enlarge and build up fluid in the lungs.
Symptoms of this condition typically don’t develop until 10-20 years after the disease has begun and may include fatigue, palpitations, and shortness of breath during exertion. If left untreated, you may experience heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, and other complications.
Finally, there is mitral valve prolapse (MVP) in which the two flaps of the mitral valve become floppy or loose, and the valve is unable to close tightly. When the heart attempts to pump or contract, part of one or both of the flaps collapse, allowing a small amount of blood to leak backward through the valve. Given that most individuals with MVP don’t experience symptoms, this condition is only usually detected during a routine physical exam due to the presence of a heart murmur.
If any of the previously discussed conditions with your mitral valve become severe, your doctor may recommend mitral valve surgery or medicine to relieve your symptoms. If you are interested in reviewing your treatment options or simply concerned with your heart health, reach out to a heart specialist in Tampa today.
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