Mitral stenosis is a narrowing of the mitral valve. The mitral valve is one of four valves that regulate blood flow through the heart. It lies between the left upper and left lower cardiac chambers.
When the mitral valve is narrowed, blood flow to the left lower chamber of the heart is limited. The blood is trapped in the left upper chamber, putting pressure on the blood vessels that bring blood from the lungs to the heart. When a valve is narrow, it does not open as much as it should, so the pressure of the blood backs up within the heart and causes the blood vessels in the lungs to have too much pressure. Think of a garden hose that is kinked and resulting pressure that builds up at the wall faucet. Over time, this may cause the upper left and right chambers of the heart to enlarge.
Patients with narrowing of the mitral valve can experience fatigue and shortness of breath, especially when climbing stairs, exercising or doing other activities.
If your valve becomes severely narrowed, you may need to have it repaired or replaced. Without treatment, mitral stenosis can lead to serious heart complications.
You can learn more about valvular heart disease on this website. 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 valve stenosis, click here.