Mitral valve regurgitation

Mitral valve regurgitation — or mitral regurgitation — is when your heart's mitral valve doesn't close tightly, allowing blood to flow backward in your heart. As a result, blood can't move through your heart or to the rest of your body as efficiently, making you feel tired or out of breath.

Treatment of mitral valve regurgitation — also called mitral insufficiency or mitral incompetence — depends on how severe your condition is, whether it's getting worse and whether you have symptoms. For mild cases, treatment may not be necessary.

You may need heart surgery to repair or replace the valve for severe cases. Left untreated, severe mitral valve regurgitation can cause heart failure or heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias).

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Signs and symptoms of mitral valve regurgitation, which depend on its severity and how quickly the condition develops, can include:

  • Blood flowing turbulently through your heart (heart murmur)
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea), especially with exertion or when you lie down
  • Fatigue, especially during times of increased activity
  • Cough, especially at night or when lying down
  • Heart palpitations — sensations of a rapid, fluttering heartbeat
  • Swollen feet or ankles

Mitral regurgitation is often mild and progresses slowly. You may have no symptoms for decades and be unaware that you have this condition, and it might not progress.

Your doctor might first suspect you have mitral regurgitation upon detecting a heart murmur. Sometimes, however, the problem develops quickly, and you may experience a sudden onset of severe signs and symptoms.

When to see a doctor

If you develop symptoms that suggest mitral valve regurgitation or another problem with your heart, see your doctor right away. Sometimes the first indications are actually those of mitral valve regurgitation's complications, including heart failure, a condition in which your heart can't pump enough blood to meet your body's needs.

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