The heart’s mitral valve is a dual-flap valve that opens to allow blood to flow from the left atrium (the small, upper-left chamber of the heart) into the left ventricle (the large, lower-left chamber of the heart).
If the valve becomes stiff or misshapen due to disease or aging, then it can malfunction — greatly reducing the heart’s pumping efficiency. When this happens, especially if it goes untreated for a long time, you can develop elevated pressure in the lungs or your heart can become enlarged. The three main types of mitral valve disease are mitral valve stenosis, mitral valve prolapse, and mitral valve regurgitation.
At Dignity Health Southern California, our heart care services range from prevention and chronic disease management to the latest diagnostic procedures and treatments. Find a Doctor who’s right for you and receive expert care for mitral valve disease at one of our convenient locations in Long Beach, Northridge, Downtown LA, Glendale, and San Bernardino.
Causes of Mitral Valve Disease
Depending on the type of mitral valve disease, different factors can lead to its development. The types and causes of mitral valve disease are:
- Mitral valve stenosis refers to a valve that has become stiff and/or narrow. Mitral valve stenosis can reduce the amount of blood flow from the atrium to the ventricle.
- Mitral valve prolapse is a condition in which the valve doesn’t close properly. Mitral valve prolapse is usually caused by excessive nodules of collagen growing on the valve flaps.
- Mitral valve regurgitation is a situation in which blood leaks backwards through the valve into the left atrium.
Mitral Valve Disease Symptoms
Mild forms of mitral valve disease are often asymptomatic. For many people, a valve malfunction is only detected when their physician hears a distinctive murmur or click when listening to the heart with a stethoscope.
In some cases, the symptoms of mitral valve disease can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Because these symptoms also could indicate a serious, life-threatening emergency, you should never wait to see if the symptoms go away on their own. If you ever experience chest pain with shortness of breath, you should call 911 immediately.
Treatment Options for Mitral Valve Disease at Dignity Health Southern California
When you visit one of our cardiologists, they will create a personalized treatment plan for your unique needs. Your treatment options for mitral valve disease will depend on the type of mitral valve disease you have, how advanced the condition is, how severe your symptoms are, your overall health, and other factors. Treatment of mitral valve disease focuses on slowing the progression of any valve damage and restoring the mitral valve to full function.
Your doctor may not recommend any particular treatment for mild forms of mitral valve disease. If the disease becomes more advanced, your treatment options may include medications or surgery to repair or replace the mitral valve.
Dignity Health is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for mitral valve disease in Southern California.