Mitral Valve Regurgitation

What is Mitral Valve Regurgitation?

When individuals are diagnosed with Mitral Valve Regurgitation, they have a heart valve that is malfunctioning. A heart valve that is properly working assists with the blood flow from the top portion of the heart to the bottom chamber.

When a person has this disorder, the valve cannot close correctly and this allows blood to exit backward and flow into the  top chamber of the heart. If the valve leakage is excessive, heart failure may occur because this condition puts extra strain on the heart. The causes of mitral valve regurgitation include a buildup of calcium on the mitral valve or additional heart problems, such as endocarditis or a heart attack.

What are the Symptoms of Mitral Valve Regurgitation?

Individuals who have mitral valve regurgitation often do not notice any symptoms of this condition and when they do, the symptoms will normally materialize at a slow rate.

Symptoms include

Shortness of breath, usually when active, feeling the heart beat at a faster than normal rate, coughing and having the urge to urinate frequently, especially during the night.

It is also common to feel excessively tired and to have swollen feet and legs due to fluid building up. When individuals have an acute case of mitral valve regurgitation, which means that symptoms begin all of a sudden, they should seek emergency treatment as soon as possible. Acute symptoms to watch out for include pains in the chest, being in a confused state, feeling weak and being very short of breath.

Mitral Valve Regurgitation Causes

Mitral valve regurgitation is caused by heart attack, damaged tissue cords, an abnormal heart muscle (cardiomyopathy), trauma (such as a car accident), congenital heart defects, rheumatic fever, pulmonary hypertension, mitral valve prolapse, and endocarditis. It can also be caused by radiation therapy for cancer in the chest area (such as breast cancer) or certain drugs containing ergotamine (such as Migergot and Cafergot).

Risk factors for mitral valve regurgitation include taking medications for migraines, or people taking cabergoline. Age is another risk factor associated with this condition; middle-aged people can develop mitral valve regurgitation because of normal deterioration of the valve. Therefore, the older you are, the higher your risk.

How is Mitral Valve Regurgitation Treated?

Individuals who have mitral valve regurgitation may be required by their physician to make some changes in their lifestyle. These suggestions often include exercising regularly, eating meals that are designed to keep the heart healthy, avoiding the overuse of salt and losing weight if necessary.

If this type of heart condition is causing health problems, a physician may recommend taking prescription medications. If necessary, surgeons can repair a person’s mitral valve or replace it if repairing it is not an option. Individuals who arrive at the emergency room with acute mitral valve regurgitation will often go into surgery immediately.

Mitral Valve Regurgitation Prevention

While there’s no sure way to prevent mitral valve regurgitation, you can take steps to improve your quality of life while living with the disease. For instance, seeing your doctor regularly and cutting back on alcohol can help you prevent complications of mitral valve regurgitation, such as pulmonary hypertension, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation. Excessive alcohol consumption causes arrhythmias, making your symptoms worse; it can also lead to cardiomyopathy.

You can also stick to a heart-healthy diet low in trans and saturated fats, sodium, sugar, and refined grains (like white bread). Fill your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as protein – like lean meats, nuts, and fish – and whole grains. Eating a diet like this can also help you maintain a healthy weight – another way to prevent complications.

Exercising regularly – or according to your doctor’s orders – is recommended, as well as controlling your blood pressure. High blood pressure is dangerous for mitral valve regurgitation; so taking steps to ensure you keep your pressure low is crucial. Preventing an endocarditis infection is also an important measure to take to prevent complications of mitral valve regurgitation.