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Problems With the Mitral Valve

Clip Number: 5 of 41
Presentation: Common Heart Conditions, Tests, and Procedures
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Reviewed By: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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Let's discuss some of the problems that can occur with the mitral valve.
The mitral valve has two leaflets, which open and close to keep blood flowing from the lungs into the heart. There are two types of mitral valve problems: stenosis and insufficiency.
Valve stenosis is when the inside of the valve gets smaller. When this happens, the heart has to push harder to get blood through the smaller opening. This makes it very hard for the blood to leave the lungs and return to the heart. Stenosis may be caused by a build-up of calcium on the valve. This build-up also hardens the valve, which means it can't open and close properly.
Insufficiency or leakage is another problem that can occur when a valve does not close properly. This allows blood to leak back through the valve, AWAY from the direction it SHOULD be going. With the mitral valve, this causes blood to leak backwards towards the lungs. Insufficiency can be caused by a valve that is getting weak over time and is wearing out.
A less common cause of valve disease is an infection called rheumatic fever. This infection may have damaged the valve and caused scarring. The scarring makes it harder for the valve to work.The valve is also affected by the blood supply to the heart. If you have had a heart attack or if there is poor blood flow because of narrowing in the arteries of the heart, then this may also contribute to the valve failing. These problems may cause feelings of shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, or even passing out.

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