What is mitral regurgitation?

Mitral valve regurgitation is a heart condition that affects the flow of blood through the chambers of the heart. Any sort of cardiac problem can be frightening. At Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, we’re empowering heart care patients to live life well by making informed decisions for their healthcare. The cardiologists at our Heart Center, including the one featured in the accompanying video, put our patients first.

Understanding mitral valve regurgitation
To fully understand mitral regurgitation and why it’s problematic, it’s helpful to know how blood flows through the heart.

  1. Blood goes through the right side of the heart
  2. Blood enters the lungs
  3. The lungs oxygenate the blood
  4. Blood re-enters the heart at its left side
  5. The heart pumps oxygen-rich blood out to the body

Blood flows properly because of the four heart valves, which open and close to keep blood moving in the right direction . The valves also prevent the backflow or regurgitation of blood.

The mitral valve opens to let blood pass from the left atrium to the left ventricle. Then, it closes to prevent that blood from flowing backward. When this valve doesn’t close well, the patient has mitral valve regurgitation, also called a leaky valve.

Identifying the signs and symptoms of leaky valves
It’s possible to have mild mitral regurgitation that doesn’t cause symptoms. When this heart problem does cause symptoms, patients may notice the following:

  • Heart palpitations, especially when lying on the left side
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Swelling of the feet or ankles
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness

Some patients with mitral regurgitation have co-existing cardiovascular problems, including the following:

  • Heart failure
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • Pulmonary hypertension

Undergoing treatment for mitral regurgitation
Each heart patient’s treatment plan is personalized to meet his or her needs. Mitral regurgitation treatment may include any of these:

  • Watchful waiting/ongoing evaluations
  • Heart-healthy lifestyle
  • Treatment of underlying problems
  • Surgical valve repair
  • Surgical valve replacement

Heart Center at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center is pleased to offer our comprehensive Valve Program to patients in the Las Vegas area. Our state-of-the-art heart hospital was the first in the state to perform TAVR—an advanced surgical technique to replace failing mitral valves. A registered nurse is available at (702) 233-5300 to provide physician referrals.

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