Mitral regurgitation is a type of valvular heart disease where the mitral valve does not close properly and thus allows backward flow of blood in the heart. The mitral valve separates the left atrium from the left ventricular, and it opens and closes during every heart beat to allow blood to flow in one direction only. When the mitral valve leaks, some blood is ejecting backward during each heart beat.
Patients with mitral regurgitation may experience shortness of breath, limited exercise tolerance, or irregular heart rhythms. In severe cases, this can lead to heart failure. Mitral regurgitation can develop for many reasons, including coronary heart disease, rheumatic fever, or endocarditis. Your doctor can diagnose mitral regurgitation with an echocardiogram.
Patients who develop symptoms of mitral regurgitation are often referred for open heart surgery. The treatment for mitral regurgitation is to repair or replace the abnormal valve. Under most circumstances, repairing the mitral valve is preferred, and your surgeon will discuss the operation in detail with you. In some cases, the mitral valve needs to be replaced, in which case, mechanical or tissue valves can be used.