Mitral Valvular Regurgitation

ExitCare ImageMitral valvular regurgitation (MVR, MR) is a condition in which there is a leaky mitral valve. The mitral valve is the large valve between the two left chambers of the heart. When the large muscular ventricle contracts to pump blood, the mitral valve keeps that blood from flowing backward and back into the atrium. If there is too much regurgitation, the heart has to work harder. This eventually can cause heart failure. When your heart goes into failure, you do not feel well. You have shortness of breath (dyspnea) with exertion. The kidneys do not work as well so you may retain fluid. This is one of the reasons your lower legs and ankles may swell. You may have a rapid weight gain. In addition to this swelling, the fluid retention makes fluid back up in the lungs. This causes additional shortness of breath, which then makes the failure worse.

The first sign you will usually recognize is shortness of breath with exertion (climbing stairs for example). You will also usually get a rapid heartbeat. Upon discharge from this location, weigh yourself after arriving home. Record your weight at the same time every day as this will provide a record of your progress. As you get better, your weight will usually go down. Follow a low sodium (low salt) diet. You may notice that you get short of breath while sleeping. The heart actually has to work harder while you are lying down. This may also produce a night cough or make it necessary to sleep with two or more pillows.


You may have no symptoms if mitral regurgitation is mild. It may be discovered only during a routine exam by your caregiver when a heart murmur is heard.


The best study for mitral regurgitation is the echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart). This shows the cause of the MR and how bad it is. It also gives information about the left ventricle and atrium (the two heart chambers that are bridged by the mitral valve.)


If you are beginning to have symptoms from mitral regurgitation or are waiting for a surgical procedure to help you with this problem, following are some of the things you can do to help yourself while you are waiting for surgery or are simply putting off the surgery to see if it is needed.




Make an appointment with your caregiver as directed for follow-up.