What is mitral regurgitation?

Mitral regurgitation is the second most common form of heart valve disease in the Western world. It occurs when the valve between the left atrium and the left ventricle doesn't close tightly.

Mitral regurgitation can be caused by various things, such as wear and tear on the heart muscle or poor blood circulation.

When the ventricle contracts, blood flows back through the leaking valve into the atrium. At the same time, fresh blood arrives in the atrium from the lungs. As soon as the mitral valve re-opens, fresh blood flows into the ventricle, but so does blood that leaks back.

So the two chambers have to pump more blood overall. Let's compare a healthy valve with an unhealthy one: A healthy mitral valve makes sure that blood is pumped into the body and not back into the atrium.

If the valve leaks, the heart muscle has to work harder because there's always too much blood in both of the chambers. The heart can often compensate quite well by gradually growing larger and thicker over the years.

That's why many people aren't aware of their disease for a long time. It's usually only discovered by accident. But at some point the heart is no longer able to compensate enough without treatment.

The heart gets weaker and can no longer supply itself and other organs with enough blood. So symptoms like weakness, shortness of breath or heart rhythm problems usually only occur after quite some time.

Information on many other topics at: https://www.informedhealth.org/

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Updated on January 9, 2024

Next planned update: 2027


Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG, Germany)

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