Mitral regurgitation

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Overview

Mitral valve regurgitation is a type of heart valve disease in which the valve between the left heart chambers doesn't close completely, allowing blood to leak backward across the valve. It is the most common type of heart valve disease (valvular heart disease). If the leakage is severe, not enough blood will move through the heart or to the rest of the body. As a result, mitral valve regurgitation can make you feel very tired (fatigued) or short of breath.

Other names for mitral valve regurgitation are:

Mitral regurgitation (MR)

Mitral insufficiency

Mitral incompetence

Treatment of mitral valve regurgitation may include regular monitoring, medications or surgery. Some people with mitral regurgitation don't need treatment, especially when the regurgitation is mild.

Severe mitral valve regurgitation often requires a catheter procedure or heart surgery to repair or replace the mitral valve. Without proper treatment, severe mitral valve regurgitation can cause heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias) or heart failure.

Symptoms

Sound of blood flow across the valve (heart murmur)

Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)

Shortness of breath (dyspnea), especially when lying down.

Sensation of a rapid, pounding or fluttering heartbeat (palpitations)

Swollen feet or ankles (edema)

Causes

The most common reason this happens is because the mitral valve is damaged. This can be either from birth or because of a heart attack, which can weaken the tissue around it. You might hear a doctor say a valve is “prolapsed” if it doesn’t close up the way it should.

Other possible causes:

A buildup of calcium 

Rheumatic fever, which can develop as a result of strep throat

A type of bacterial infection called “infective endocarditis,” which attacks the lining of your heart’s chambers and valves

Risk factors

Certain infections that affect the heart.

Heart attack.

Heart problems present at birth (congenital heart defect)

History of other heart valve diseases, including mitral valve prolapse and mitral valve stenosis.

Older age.

Radiation to the chest.

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Complications

Severe regurgitation can cause blood clots, gel-like clumps that can create serious problems if they get to the lungs or brain.

The condition can also cause fluid to build up in the lungs, straining the right side of the heart.

If you have regurgitation, less blood is going to your body. Your heart works harder to make up for the shortfall. If this goes on long enough, your heart could enlarge, making it harder to pump blood and raising the risk of heart failure.

It also can lead to an irregular, or uneven, heartbeat or a stroke.

Prevention

Manage blood pressure. Control of high blood pressure is important if you have mitral valve regurgitation.

Eat a heart-healthy diet. ...

Get regular exercise. ...

Maintain a healthy weight. ...

Prevent infective endocarditis. ...

Avoid or limit alcohol. ...

Avoid tobacco. ...

Get regular health checkups.