Mitral valve regurgitation

1st October 2018

Our specialist helpline nurse Emma Greenslade recently opened a discussion about taking medication correctly on our closed Facebook group. Read her post here.

Mitral valve regurgitation

Lots of people ask about Mitral valve regurgitation and what it means if you have cardiomyopathy.

Mitral insufficiency, mitral regurgitation or mitral incompetence is a disorder of the heart in which the mitral valve does not close properly when the heart pumps out blood. It is the abnormal leaking of blood backwards from the left ventricle, through the mitral valve, into the left atrium, when the left ventricle contracts, i.e. there is regurgitation of blood back into the left atrium. Mitral regurgitation is the most common form of valvular heart disease.

Mitral insufficiency in cardiomyopathy is due to the dilatation of the left ventricle that causes stretching of the mitral valve annulus and displacement of the papillary muscles (these protect the valves from collapsing). This dilatation of the left ventricle can be due to any cause of dilated cardiomyopathy including aortic insufficiency, nonischemic dilated cardiomyopathy, and Noncompaction cardiomyopathy. Because the papillary muscles, chordae, and valve leaflets are usually normal in such conditions, it is also called functional mitral insufficiency.

Mild mitral regurgitation may not have any symptoms. When regurgitation is more severe, a person may have palpitations, especially when lying on the left side.

If regurgitation is severe enough, the heart may enlarge to maintain forward flow of blood, causing heart failure (when the heart does not pump enough blood to the body). This may produce symptoms ranging from shortness of breath during exertion, coughing, congestion around the heart and lungs, swelling of the legs and feet.

The treatment of mitral insufficiency depends on the acuteness of the disease and whether there are associated signs of hemodynamic compromise. Treatment can be use of vasodilating drugs and anticoagulant drugs. Surgery to replace the valve or a balloon to open up the valve. All these are considered individually with your doctors.