What is Mitral Valve Disease?

Each year, more than five million Americans are diagnosed with heart valve disease, which can disrupt blood flow through the heart. The heart has four valves: aortic, pulmonary, mitral, and tricuspid, but the aorta and mitral valves present the most problems as people age.

“There are three types of valve problems,” said Mitch Rogers, MBA, BSN, RN, administrator of Memorial Heart & Vascular Services. “Atresia is a congenital defect, but more commonly we see stenosis and regurgitation. Stenosis occurs when valve leaflets do not close all of the way, and regurgitation occurs when the blood flows backwards in the heart.”

Many people are familiar with treatments for aortic stenosis which requires a heart valve replacement through surgery or a procedure known as transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). But another common heart valve problem is mitral valve regurgitation which occurs when the mitral valve does not close fully causing blood backflow due to mitral valve prolapse.

This backflow requires the heart to work harder to pump blood and can thicken the left ventricle as well as cause fluid build-up in the lungs. A cardiologist may monitor mitral valve disease closely until it causes symptoms, at which time they will repair or replace the valve.

How is a mitral valve repaired?

One method to repair a mitral valve stenosis is to utilize balloon valvuloplasty, which expands a narrowing valve. If an individual has mitral valve regurgitation, this procedure is not used. In addition to traditional surgery and robotic procedures to repair the valve, there is a newer procedure called transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVR), also known as MitraClip. MitraClip is a small clip that attaches to the mitral valve flaps to allow for valve closure and prevent regurgitation.
“The MitraClip procedure is offered at Memorial Medical Center to treat mitral valve regurgitation in patients who cannot get open heart surgery,” said Rogers. “This repair allows symptomatic patients to have a better quality of life with a minimally invasive procedure.”

Have questions about mitral valve disease?

Speak with your primary care provider about your heart health or contact Memorial Heart & Vascular Services if you are not sure where to start.

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