Is Mitral Valve Disease A Serious Condition?

Mitral valve disease occurs when the mitral valve does not work properly that works to keep the blood flowing in one direction from the left atrium to the left ventricle. This valve also works to prevent backflow of blood from the ventricle to the atrium. When mitral valve does not function properly the heart is not able to pump enough blood to the ventricular chamber to supply oxygenated blood to the body. This leads to extra load on the heart to pump blood causing fatigue and shortness of breath.

Is Mitral Valve Disease A Serious Condition?

If mitral valve disease is left untreated, then it can lead to serious life-threatening complications such as heart failure or irregular heartbeats known as arrhythmias. The symptoms can be eased with medication but it cannot be fully treated even with surgery. The mild cases of the disease do not present with any obvious symptoms of heart disease and the condition only progresses with time. Therefore it becomes important to pay attention to the signs and get early treatment.

Mitral valve disease can be of three types. They are mitral valve stenosis (narrowing of the valve opening that does not allow enough blood to pass into the ventricle), mitral valve prolapse (in this the flaps protrude instead of shutting tightly leading to backflow of blood in to the atria) and mitral valve regurgitation (where some blood flows back into the atrium when the left ventricle contracts or compresses).

Causes And Symptoms Of Mitral Valve Disease

The causes of each type of mitral valve disease are different from the other. Mitral valve stenosis is caused by scarring that result due to untreated childhood rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever in childhood will occur when then body tries to defend against a streptococcal bacterial infection. It is also a serious complication of streptococcal throat infection or scarlet fever. The rheumatic fever mostly leads to inflammation of the joints and muscles of the heart of the diseased person. The inflamed joints might not recover completely leading to chronic disabilities in a person. The inflammation of the heart will cause endocarditis (the lining of heart is affected), myocarditis (heart muscle is inflamed) and pericarditis (where membrane that surrounds the heart is infected). The diseased mitral valve by the above mentioned heart pathologies will lead to a chronic heart condition known as rheumatic heart disease. Other rare causes of mitral valve stenosis include blood clots, buildup of calcium in the muscles, familial defects in heart, tumors and radiation exposure.

Mitral valve prolapse is mostly a genetic/hereditary disease and is especially found in those people who have a history of scoliosis and disorders of connective tissue. Mitral valve regurgitation can be caused by heart problems such as endocarditis or inflammation of lining of the heart and valves, cardiac arrest and acute rheumatic fever. Any damage that will lead to wear and tear of the heart’s tissue or cords to your mitral valve will lead to the condition of mitral valve regurgitation. Sometimes mitral valve prolapse can also cause mitral valve regurgitation.

The symptoms will include cough, breathlessness especially on mild to moderate activity or sometimes even on lying down, fatigue along with fainting spells. In some cases there may be pain or tightness in the chest. The heartbeat can be irregular or fast. The symptoms will get worse when the body deals with extra stress such as presence of any infection or during pregnancy.

Diagnosis And Management Of Mitral Valve Disease

The diagnosis is made on the basis of history, presence of abnormal heart sounds and additional tests to confirm the diagnosis. The imaging tests done are echocardiogram, X-ray, transesophageal echocardiogram, cardiac catheterization, electrocardiogram and Holter monitoring. Test to monitor heart activity include stress test where the doctor will see how your heart responds to physical stress.

The treatment of the disease depends upon the severity of the symptoms. The symptoms can be eased with antiarrythmics, anticoagulants, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers and diuretics. Surgery may be required in severe cases and it includes valvuloplasty where the valve is repaired.

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