Cardiovascular Diseases



Mitral Valve Disease


Also known as mitral stenosis, mitral regurgitation or failure

Heart valve diseases are grouped according to the diseased valve, the type of problem (stenosis or regurgitation) and the severity of the problem. The most common cardiac valve diseases are found in the aortic and mitral valves.

The mitral valve, which is located between the left atrium and the left ventricle, may become stenotic or may regurgitate (fail).

When the mitral valve is stenotic (mitral stenosis), the valve opening is smaller than normal and the heart has to do extra work to pump blood through this opening.

When the mitral valve regurgitates blood or closes improperly (valve regurgitation or failure), the valve does not seal when closed; blood then backs up against the normal flow and leaks into the left atrium.

Causes and/or risk factors 

Many pathologies may cause both mitral stenosis and regurgitation to varying degrees:

  • Rheumatic valve disease: secondary to rheumatic fever, which is generally contracted in childhood and can lead to valve problems 20 to 40 years later
  • Endocarditis
  • Isolated mitral regurgitation may be secondary to:
  • Mitral valve prolapse (myxoid degeneration, Barlow's disease): a bulging of part of the mitral valve into the left atrium, which may be due to a build up of tissue in the valve flaps
  • A mitral valve lesion following an infarct
  • A dilatation of the mitral valve opening associated with dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Shortness of breath upon exertion or when lying down
  • Fatigue
  • Palpitations
  • Swelling in the legs or unexplained weight gain

After filling out a comprehensive questionnaire and performing a physical exam, the doctor will prescribe some of the following tests to confirm the diagnosis, establish the severity of the problem and determine the best treatment if he or she suspects mitral valve disease:


Depending on the severity of the disease as determined by the medical evaluation and diagnostic tests, the doctor will recommend:

  • Periodic follow-up with an echocardiogram
  • Medications to treat the symptoms
  • A mitral valve replacement or repair through surgery or another type of procedure