Mitral valve disease is the most prevalent form of valve disease. There are two common conditions that can affect the mitral valve's ability to regulate blood flow:
Mitral valve regurgitation occurs when the leaflets do not close completely and become “floppy,” causing blood to leak back into the left atrium and decreasing the flow of blood to the rest of the body.
Mitral valve stenosis occurs when the valve does not open completely, usually because of calcification, obstructing blood flow.
The heart of those who suffer from mitral valve disease has to work harder. Eventually this will cause a weakening of the heart muscle which increases the risk of irreversible damage and heart failure. Someone with mitral valve disease will experience:
- Shortness of breath, particularly during exertion
- Heart palpitations
- Weakness and fatigue
- Chest pain (angina)
- Frequent respiratory infections or coughing, sometimes with blood-tinged sputum.
These symptoms will cause a decrease in one's quality of life and potentially death if left untreated.