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Mitral Vavle Regurgitation

When the mitral valve becomes leaky, it’s called mitral valve regurgitation. It’s also known as mitral insufficiency. The mitral valve is one of the heart’s 4 valves. These valves help the blood flow through the heart’s 4 chambers and out to the body. The mitral valve lies between the left atrium and the left ventricle. Normally, the mitral valve prevents blood flowing back into the left atrium from the left ventricle. In mitral valve regurgitation, however, some blood leaks back through the valve. It doesn’t just flow forward into the ventricle the way it should. Because of this, the heart has to work harder than it should to get blood out to the body. If the regurgitation gets worse, some blood may start to back up into the lungs. A very small amount of mitral regurgitation is common. But some people have severe mitral valve regurgitation.

Mitral valve regurgitation can be acute or chronic. With the acute condition, the valve suddenly becomes leaky. In this case, the heart doesn’t have time to adapt to the leak in the valve. Symptoms with acute mitral regurgitation are often severe. In the chronic form, the valve gradually becomes leakier over time. This gives the heart time to adapt to the leak. With chronic mitral regurgitation, the symptoms may range from mild to severe.

What causes mitral valve regurgitation?

A range of conditions can cause mitral valve regurgitation. They include:

  • Floppy mitral valve (mitral valve prolapse)
  • Rheumatic heart disease from untreated infection with strep bacteria
  • Coronary artery disease or heart attack
  • Certain autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Infection of the heart valves (endocarditis)
  • Mitral valve problems present at birth (congenital)
  • Support structures of the mitral valve break (rupture)
  • Certain medicines
  • Abnormal function of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
  • Trauma

Acute mitral valve regurgitation is more likely to happen after a heart attack. It’s also more likely to happen after rupture of the tissue or muscle that supports the mitral valve. It can happen after an acute injury or heart valve infection.

Who is at risk for mitral valve regurgitation?

You are more likely to have mitral valve regurgitation if you:

  • Don’t get treated for a strep infection and develop rheumatic heart disease
  • Use IV drugs. These raise the risk for heart valve infection.
  • Don’t get prompt treatment for health conditions that can lead to the disorder.

Some risk factors you can’t change. For example, some conditions that can lead to mitral valve regurgitation are partly genetic

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