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Your heart beats thousands of times per day, pumping dozens of gallons of blood each hour. It pumps blood through your lungs, where the blood is replenished with oxygen, and pumps it back out to the rest of your body. The heart has four chambers; the upper two chambers are called the left atrium and right atrium, and the lower two are called the left ventricle and right ventricle. Heart valves are the doorways between these chambers. They open to let blood pass from one chamber to the next, closing quickly between heartbeats so blood does not flow backward.
The mitral valve is the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle of your heart. In a normally functioning mitral valve, blood flows in a single direction between the left atrium and left ventricle. When your mitral valve’s two leaflets (or flaps) do not close properly, some blood flows backward through the valve back into the left atrium. This is called mitral regurgitation (or MR). To compensate and keep blood flowing through the body, the left ventricle pumps harder. This strain can lead to other heart complications.
Treatment for your mitral regurgitation depends on how severe it is and how sick you are. There are
medications available to reduce symptoms, such as fluid buildup in the lungs, but no medications address
the underlying problem with your mitral valve. Mitral regurgitation itself can only be treated in two
ways: mitral valve surgery or transcatheter mitral valve repair. You heart doctors will determine which option is right for you.
Unlike surgery, the MitraClip procedure does not require opening the chest. Instead, doctors access the mitral valve with a thin tube (called a catheter) that is guided through a vein in your leg to reach your heart.
The MitraClip device is a small clip that is attached to your mitral valve. It treats mitral regurgitation by allowing your mitral valve to close more completely, helping to restore normal blood flow through your heart.
* All heart images on this page are courtesy of MitraClip (a trademark of the Abbott Group of Companies).
Structural Heart, Board Member