Mitral Valve Disease


What Is Mitral Valve Disease?

Mitral valve disease is a kind of heart valve disease. The mitral valve controls blood flow between the upper and lower chambers on the left side of the heart. With mitral valve disease, this valve does not open and close the way it should with each heartbeat.

At Aurora Health Care, we are among the most experienced in the region in treating people with heart valve disease. Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center is one of few centers in Wisconsin providing the recently U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved MitraClip for people with degenerative mitral regurgitation.

Our innovative, minimally invasive procedures treat mitral valve disease effectively, so that you can regain the energy to enjoy life.


Types of Mitral Valve Disease

There are several types of mitral valve disease:

  • Mitral valve regurgitation: When the valve doesn’t close tightly, blood leaks backward into the left atrium (upper heart chamber) instead of flowing into the left ventricle (lower heart chamber).
  • Mitral valve prolapse: When the valve bulges up into the left atrium as the heart pumps, blood can leak backward.
  • Mitral valve stenosis: When the valve thickens, stiffens or the flaps are fused together, it can’t open completely. Stenosis prevents adequate blood flow to the left ventricle and out to the body.

Find out more about other types of heart valve disease:


Symptoms of Mitral Valve Disease

Many people with mitral valve disease don’t notice any symptoms. The most common way a doctor detects mitral valve disease is hearing a heart murmur through a stethoscope. The heart murmur sounds like an extra or unusual whooshing or swishing sound.

Other symptoms include:

  • A fluttering, racing or irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain (especially during physical exertion)
  • Dizziness
  • Syncope (fainting)
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath or having trouble breathing, especially when you exert yourself or when you lie down
  • Swelling in your ankles, feet, legs, abdomen and neck veins

Risk Factors

What Causes Mitral Valve Disease?

Several types of mitral valve disease appear after a person has been ill or injured. Other types are inherited or congenital (present from birth).

Causes of mitral valve disease include:

  • Infection: Serious or untreated infections can weaken the mitral valve and cause mitral valve stenosis or mitral valve regurgitation. These infections include rheumatic fever (a complication of untreated strep throat) and endocarditis (inflammation of the heart’s lining).
  • Inherited conditions: Mitral valve prolapse tends to run in families and is usually present since birth. Sometimes it also appears in people who have connective tissue disorders or scoliosis.
  • Heart attack: After a heart attack, damage to heart tissue can mean the mitral valve doesn’t work as it should.


Customized Diagnosis for Mitral Valve Disease

We work closely with people and their doctors to identify mitral valve disease as early as possible and begin treatment to minimize its effects.

To provide a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan, we may use diagnostic tests and procedures, such as:

  • Physical exam: The doctor will listen to your heart with a stethoscope to check for a heart murmur. We’ll also ask about your symptoms and family history.
  • Chest X-ray: We may order this imaging study to examine the internal structures of your chest.
  • Diagnostic tests: Several tests can help us check heart function and rule out other conditions. These may include:
  • Diagnostic procedures: We may order diagnostic tests, such as cardiac catheterization, to examine internal heart structures.

Learn more about heart and vascular diagnosis and testing at Aurora.


Innovative Care for Mitral Valve Disease

If you’re diagnosed with mitral valve disease, we will work with you on a treatment plan tailored to your needs.

It may include diet or lifestyle changes, or medication to treat your symptoms. At some point, we may recommend repairing or replacing the faulty mitral valve.

Procedures to treat mitral valve disease include:

  • Balloon valvuloplasty: Using a catheter, we thread a small balloon through a blood vessel from your groin to your heart. We then inflate the balloon to stretch the heart valve.
  • Heart valve replacement: Doctors sometimes can replace the damaged valve with an artificial valve.
  • Catheter heart valve repair: We thread a catheter through a blood vessel to the damaged mitral valve, and then use small clips to reshape the valve so blood can’t flow backward. Aurora is one of the first to use this minimally invasive procedure to repair the mitral valve.

Leaders in Minimally Invasive Treatment of Valvular Heart Disease

Cardiovascular Surgery

Our heart surgeons perform more heart surgeries than any other health care organization in Wisconsin. Our experience means that you benefit from our high level of surgical skill, the latest technological advances and a caring, personalized approach.

Valve Repair & Replacement

Our surgical teams are experts in minimally invasive heart valve repair and replacement procedures. With these treatments, we’re able to help more people with heart valve disease, with faster recovery time and excellent results.

Open Heart Surgery

Some people are candidates for open heart surgery to repair their damaged heart valves. We perform the greatest number of open heart procedures in Wisconsin, and we have the best results in the state.

Valvular Heart Disease Center

For more information, please give us a call. 

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