Your mitral valve should close tightly and allow blood to flow forward to the body.
Mitral regurgitation (also called mitral insufficiency or mitral incompetence) is a condition in which your heart’s mitral valve doesn’t close properly, allowing blood to flow backward into the heart. As a result, blood doesn’t move through your heart or to the rest of your body efficiently, making you feel tired or out of breath. More severe cases can weaken your heart over time, often leading to heart failure.
A fairly common disease, one in five people over the age of 55 have some degree of a leaking mitral valve.
There are two types of mitral valve regurgitation. Primary mitral valve regurgitation, caused by an abnormality in the anatomy of the mitral valve; and secondary mitral valve regurgitation, caused by an abnormality of the heart’s left ventricle. Your risk for the condition increases if you have a history of heart disease, heart attack, mitral valve prolapse or stenosis, rheumatic fever, endocarditis or congenital heart disease. Treatment may include lifestyle changes, such as diet adjustments and smoking cessation, and regular checkups. Valve repair or replacement surgery may be required for more serious cases.
Symptoms may include:
• Shortness of breath, especially with exertion or when lying down
• Fatigue, often during times of increased activity
• Heart palpitations
• Fluid buildup in feet or ankles