Key Points about Mitral Valve Regurgitation 

  • Mitral valve regurgitation causes more stress on the heart, leading you to feel tired quickly.
  • Mitral valve regurgitation is diagnosed using a physical exam, imaging tests and/or stress test.
  • Treatment for this condition may include medication management, watchful waiting and/or surgical procedure.
Common related conditions
Heart (Cardiovascular) Disease

Overview

Mitral valve regurgitation occurs when your heart’s mitral valve does not close tightly. Due to this, blood flows backward into your heart. This can make you feel tired or out of breath easily.

Mitral valve regurgitation causes

This condition can be caused by:

  • Atrial fibrillation, or AFib
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Certain medications, such as migraine medicine
  • Congenital (present at birth) heart defect
  • Damaged tissue cords that secure the mitral valve
  • Endocarditis
  • Heart attack
  • Mitral valve prolapse, or valve bulging back into the heart chamber
  • Radiation therapy
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Trauma

Mitral valve regurgitation risk factors

Factors that can increase your risk for developing mitral valve regurgitation include:

  • Being middle age or older
  • Certain medications, such as migraine or appetite suppressants 
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Endocarditis 
  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease, such as coronary heart disease
  • History of mitral valve prolapse or stenosis
  • Rheumatic fever

Mitral valve regurgitation symptoms

Some people with this condition do not experience any symptoms. When they are present, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Heart murmur (extra sound in a heartbeat)
  • Heart palpitations, or fluttering
  • Shortness of breath, especially during exercise or when you lie down
  • Swelling in your ankles or feet

Mitral valve regurgitation diagnosis

Your cardiologist will use one or more of the following tests to diagnose this condition:

  • Complete physical exam. Your doctor will perform a comprehensive physical exam, including asking about your personal and family health history.
  • Imaging tests. Your cardiologist may order imaging tests – such as a chest X-ray, electrocardiogram (EKG), cardiac computerized tomography (CT) scan or echocardiogram – to obtain detailed images of your heart and valves.
  • Stress test. Your cardiologist will use this test to check how well your heart and valves work while exercising.

Mitral valve regurgitation treatments

Treatment for mitral valve regurgitation may include:

  • Medication management. Your cardiologist may prescribe one or more medications to help control symptoms related to mitral valve regurgitation, such as diuretics (water pill), blood thinners or high blood pressure medication.
  • Mitral valve repair or replacement. During this procedure, your cardiothoracic surgeon removes your damaged mitral valve and replaces it with another valve that is made of either pig, cow or human tissue, or from surgical-grade plastic or metal (mechanical). Valves made of tissue may only last about a decade, while mechanical valves are made to last the rest of your life. 
  • Ongoing monitoring. If your mitral valve regurgitation is mild, your cardiologist may recommend a watchful monitoring approach. You may need to also make some lifestyle modifications during this time, such as eating a heart-healthy diet and getting regular physical activity.

When to seek care

If you experience any of these symptoms, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing a cardiologist for more specialized treatment.