The mitral valve is one of four valves that regulate blood flow through the heart. The mitral valve is located between the left upper and the left lower chamber of the heart (left atrium and left ventricle, respectively).
Mitral valve regurgitation (or insufficiency, as it is sometimes called) may be the result of a condition called mitral valve prolapse, in which the valve leaflets and the fibers (chords) that support them become floppy and elongated. Mitral valve prolapse does not always lead to regurgitation. In fact, many people who have mitral valve prolapse never develop severe leaking of the mitral valve.
Patients with mitral regurgitation rarely have symptoms until the valve is leaking severely. These symptoms include difficulty breathing, trouble exercising and fatigue. Physicians often recommend treatment for severe mitral regurgitation before symptoms develop.
Severe mitral regurgitation over time can lead to an increase in the size of the heart (left atrium and left ventricle), a decrease in the amount of blood flow to the body and an increase in the work of the heart. Failure of the left ventricle may result.
You can learn more about valvular heart disease right here on SecondsCount. For more information about the different types of heart valve problems, what causes them and their symptoms, visit the SecondsCount Valvular Heart Disease Center.
To learn about treatment options for mitral regurgitation, click here.