Mitral Valve FAQs

What is the mitral valve?

The mitral valve lies on the left side of the heart between the left atrium (the upper heart chamber) and the left ventricle (the lower heart chamber), regulating the flow of blood between these two chambers.

What is mitral stenosis?

Mitral stenosis is a condition in which the mitral valve that is narrowed or does not open completely, and therefore obstructs blood from moving through it normally.

What is mitral regurgitation?

Mitral valve regurgitation is a condition in which the mitral valve leaks, allowing blood to flow backwards through the heart and into the lungs. This condition can cause shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats, and pain.

What is Mitral Valve Prolapse?

Mitral valve prolapse is a relatively common and benign condition in which the mitral valve bulges a little bit, so that the leaflets do not close properly. This allows some blood to leak backwards into the ventricle.

What are symptoms of mitral valve disease?

Symptoms may include shortness of breath, pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, and fatigue. Some patients have no symptoms, however.

If I have no symptoms of mitral disease, do I need surgery?

If there is evidence that the left ventricle is becoming damaged, surgery may be recommended in the absence of symptoms.

When will a mitral valve need to be repaired, and when will replacement be recommended?

Repair is usually the treatment of choice for patients with regurgitation or mitral valve prolapse who need treatment. In addition to avoiding the need for lifelong blood thinning medication, mitral repair offers lower operative and long-term mortality than valve replacement, as well as better preservation of left ventricular function and reduced risk of infective endocarditis.

Mitral valve replacement may be recommended if the patient’s valve is ballooning extensively, if there is severe calcification of the valve, if there is prolapse (bulging) in an unusual location, or if the valve has been damaged by endocarditis.