What Is Severe Mitral Regurgitation?

Severe mitral regurgitation is a medical emergency characterized by abnormal enlargement of the heart due to improper functioning of the mitral valve. Mitral valve regurgitation causes the flow of blood in the left chambers of the heart in two directions. This becomes so severe that the heart size increases to facilitate the flow of blood and reduce the pressure on the heart. It is represented by symptoms like severe shortness of breath, pale skin, unconsciousness, rapid breathing, and abnormal heart rhythms. It requires immediate treatment through surgery. Immediate valve repair or replacement is recommended in severe cases.

What Is Severe Mitral Regurgitation?

What Is Severe Mitral Regurgitation?

Mitral valve lies in between the two chambers of the left side of the heart. It separates the left atrium and left ventricle regulating the flow of blood in one direction only. The left side chambers of heart contain oxygenated blood coming from the lungs and distributed to the rest parts of the body

Mitral regurgitation is the condition marked by the leakage of the blood backward into the left atrium from the left ventricle through the mitral valve in every contraction of the heart. This leakage causes the flow of blood in two directions during every heartbeat. This results in an increase in the blood volume and pressure in the left chamber. This pressure increases pressure on the vein coming to the left atrium from the lungs.

When the backflow of blood increases in the left atrium, it causes severe mitral regurgitation. This leads to increased pressure in the heart resulting in congestion in the lungs. Severe mitral regurgitation is a serious condition of the heart caused by the improper closing of the mitral valve. In this condition, blood cannot move to the other parts of the body normally.

Causes Of Severe Mitral Regurgitation

Mitral regurgitation is caused by following medical conditions-

  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • Rheumatic heart disease caused by a strep infection of the throat
  • Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Infection of heart valves
  • Certain drugs
  • Injury to the valves
  • Heart attack

Severe mitral regurgitation occurs acutely most commonly after a heart attack. It is also triggered after rupture of the tissues and muscles that support the mitral valve. This rupture can occur due to a trauma to the heart or heart valve infection.

Severe Mitral Regurgitation Symptoms

The symptoms of mitral regurgitation are less likely to appear. In mild and moderate cases, the symptoms do not appear. When regurgitation get severe if not treated or not diagnosed in time, then the symptoms may appear. These symptoms are-

  • Increased tiredness
  • Reduced physical activities
  • Shortness of breath while exertion or after lying flat
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Palpitations
  • Swelling in the abdomen, legs, and veins of the neck

In acute severe mitral regurgitation, it causes serious conditions like –

  • Severe breathing difficulties
  • Symptoms of shock that includes, paleness of skin, loss of consciousness rapid breathing
  • Arrhythmia of heart that influences the efficiency of the heart
  • Heart congestion
  • Heart failure due to longstanding backflow of the blood.
  • These symptoms become worse when exerted more, coughing, etc

Complications Of Severe Mitral Regurgitation

Severe mitral regurgitation may cause the following complications such as-

  • Severe damage of the mitral valve
  • Heart failure
  • Atrial fibrillation (enlargement of the atrium with disorganized patterns of movement
  • Infection of the heart valve (endocarditis)
  • Transfer of clots throughout the different parts of the body
  • Pulmonary emboli (blood clots in the lungs)
  • Stroke
  • Pulmonary hypertension


Severe mitral regurgitation is an emergency condition when the mitral valve cannot work properly to maintain one-way blood flow from left atrium to left ventricle. This condition shows symptoms of shock, severe breathing difficulty and abnormal heart rhythms. It needs emergency surgical treatment of the mitral valve by mitral valve repair and mitral valve replacement.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 23, 2023

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