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Mitral Valve Insufficiency

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Mitral Valve Insufficiency

Mitral valve insufficiency, also known as mitral regurgitation, is a heart condition where the mitral valve fails to close properly, causing blood to flow backwards into the left atrium of the heart. This can lead to a variety of symptoms and complications, including heart failure, arrhythmias, and pulmonary hypertension.

Causes of Mitral Valve Insufficiency

There are several possible causes of mitral valve insufficiency, including:

1. Degenerative changes: As we age, the mitral valve can become thickened and calcified, leading to a leaky valve.

2. Rheumatic fever: This is a complication of untreated strep throat that can cause scarring and damage to the mitral valve.

3. Infective endocarditis: This is an infection of the heart valves that can cause damage to the mitral valve.

4. Congenital defects: Some people are born with a mitral valve that is abnormal or malformed.

5. Heart attack: A heart attack can damage the muscles and tissues that support the mitral valve, leading to insufficiency.

Symptoms of Mitral Valve Insufficiency

The symptoms of mitral valve insufficiency can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Some people may not experience any symptoms at all, while others may have:

1. Shortness of breath, especially during physical activity or when lying down.

2. Fatigue and weakness.

3. Swelling in the legs and ankles.

4. Rapid or irregular heartbeat.

5. Chest pain or discomfort.

6. Dizziness or fainting.

Diagnosis of Mitral Valve Insufficiency

If your doctor suspects that you have mitral valve insufficiency, they will likely perform a physical exam and order some tests, including:

1. Echocardiogram: This is a non-invasive test that uses sound waves to create images of your heart. It can show if there is any regurgitation of blood through the mitral valve.

2. Electrocardiogram (ECG): This test measures the electrical activity of your heart and can detect any abnormalities.

3. Chest X-ray: This can show if your heart is enlarged or if there is any fluid in your lungs.

4. Cardiac catheterization: This is an invasive test that involves inserting a catheter into your heart to measure pressures and check for any blockages.

Treatment of Mitral Valve Insufficiency

The treatment for mitral valve insufficiency depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. Some possible treatments include:

1. Medications: Your doctor may prescribe medications to help control your symptoms, such as diuretics to reduce fluid buildup, or beta blockers to slow your heart rate.

2. Surgery: If your mitral valve insufficiency is severe, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair or replace the valve.

3. Lifestyle changes: Making lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly can help improve your overall heart health and reduce your risk of complications.

Complications of Mitral Valve Insufficiency

If left untreated, mitral valve insufficiency can lead to a variety of complications, including:

1. Heart failure: This occurs when your heart is no longer able to pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs.

2. Arrhythmias: These are abnormal heart rhythms that can cause palpitations, dizziness, and fainting.

3. Pulmonary hypertension: This is a condition where the blood pressure in your lungs is elevated, which can lead to shortness of breath and fatigue.

4. Stroke: If blood clots form in your heart, they can travel to your brain and cause a stroke.


Mitral valve insufficiency is a serious heart condition that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment. If you are experiencing any symptoms of mitral valve insufficiency, it is important to see your doctor right away. With proper treatment, most people with mitral valve insufficiency are able to live normal, healthy lives.

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