Mitral Stenosis

ExitCare ImageMitral stenosis is a narrowing of the mitral valve. This is the valve between the upper (atrium) and lower (ventricle) chambers of the left side of the heart. Mitral stenosis is often discovered when your caregiver hears an abnormal sound (heart murmur) while listening to your heart.

CAUSES

  • Rheumatic fever (a complication of strep infection).

  • Buildup of calcium around the valve (can occur with aging).

  • Birth defect.

  • Damage from toxic medicines or radiation to the chest.

  • Inflammation of various tissues of the body (systemic lupus erythematosus).

  • Fabry's disease.

  • Whipple disease.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms of mitral stenosis include:

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Cough.

  • Wheezing.

  • Decreased energy or fatigue.

  • A fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations).

  • Chest pain.

  • Pain in the arm, neck, jaw, or face.

  • Swollen feet or ankles.

When babies are born with mitral stenosis, they usually develop symptoms within the first two years of life. These symptoms may include:

  • A blue color in their finger tips or toenails.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Decreased energy.

  • Slow growth.

DIAGNOSIS

Tests to diagnose mitral stenosis include:

  • Echocardiogram. This test takes an ultrasound picture of the heart. It allows your caregiver to see how the heart valves work when your heart beats.

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG). This test records electrical activity in the heart.

  • Cardiac catheterization. This test looks at the structure and function of the heart. A tube device (catheter) is passed through the blood vessels and into the heart. Dye is injected into the blood vessels, allowing images to be taken of the cardiac system.

  • Chest X-ray.

TREATMENT

Treatment for mitral stenosis depends on the severity of the condition. It may include:

  • Medicines to keep the heart rate regular.

  • Blood thinners (anticoagulants) to prevent the formation of blood clots.

  • Medicines (antibiotics) that kill germs to prevent infections. Defective heart valves are more prone to infection.

  • Open heart surgery may be needed to repair or replace the mitral valve.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Do not smoke.

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

  • Decrease your caffeine and alcohol intake. Both of these substances can affect your heart's rate and rhythm.

  • Find out what kind of exercise you are allowed to participate in.

  • Eat a heart healthy diet. A dietician can help you make healthy food choices.

  • Tell your dentist or doctor that you have mitral stenosis before any dental procedures. Antibiotics may be given to prevent a heart infection.

  • If you are a woman of childbearing age and have mitral stenosis, talk to your caregiver before becoming pregnant.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You have chest pain or pressure that does not go away.

  • You develop difficulty breathing.

  • You develop palpitations.

  • You develop increased fatigue.

  • You have swelling in your feet, ankles, or legs.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.