Mitral Valve Stenosis

What is Mitral Valve Stenosis

Mitral valve stenosis is a narrowing of the mitral valve. This can limit blood flow between the upper left chamber (left atrium) and lower left chamber (left ventricle) of the heart.

This condition is likely to be diagnosed when your health care provider hears an abnormal sound (heart murmur) while listening to your heart. This condition can range from mild to severe.

What are the causes?

Mitral Valve Stenosis may be caused by:

  • Rheumatic fever, which is a complication of a strep infection.
  • Buildup of calcium around the valve. This can occur with aging.
  • A problem that is present at birth (congenital defect).
  • Certain long-term (chronic) diseases.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Symptoms of Mitral Valve Stenosis include:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cough.
  • Loud noises when breathing (wheezing).
  • Fatigue or decreased energy.
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations).
  • Chest pain.
  • Pain in the arm, neck, jaw, or face.
  • Swollen feet or ankles.
  • Hoarse voice.
  • Pink and purple patches of skin on the face.

How is Mitral Valve Stenosis diagnosed?

Mitral Valve Stenosis is diagnosed based on the results of a physical exam. Your health care provider will check for a heart murmur by listening to your heart. You may also have other tests, including:

  • An echocardiogram. This test creates ultrasound images of the heart that allow your health care provider to see how the heart valves work while your heart is beating.
  • Cardiac catheterization. This test is used to look at the structure and function of the heart. A thin tube (catheter) is passed through the blood vessels and into the heart. Dye is injected into the blood vessels so the cardiac system can be seen on images that are taken.
  • Chest X-ray.

How is this treated?

Treatment for Mitral Valve Stenosis depends on the severity of the condition. It may include:

  • Medicines to keep the heart rate regular.
  • Medicines to control blood pressure.
  • Blood thinners (anticoagulants) to prevent blood clots.
  • Antibiotic medicines to prevent infections. Defective heart valves are more likely to become infected.
  • Percutaneous balloon valvuloplasty. This is a procedure in which a catheter is passed through a blood vessel to the heart. A tiny balloon at the tip of the catheter is inflated to open up the narrowed mitral valve.
  • Open heart surgery to repair or replace the mitral valve.

Follow these instructions at home:

Lifestyle

  • Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol. Both of these substances can affect your heart’s rate and rhythm.
    • Limit alcohol intake no more than 1 drink a day for nonpregnant women and 2 drinks a day for men. One drink equals 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1½ oz of hard liquor.
  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes and e-cigarettes. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider.
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Ask your health care provider what kinds of exercise are safe for you.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat (lean) protein, and low-fat dairy products. Consider working with a diet and nutrition specialist (dietitian) to help you make healthy food choices.
  • Limit the amount of salt (sodium) in your diet. Avoid adding salt to foods, and avoid foods that are high in salt, such as:
    • Pickles.
    • Smoked and cured meats.
    • Processed foods.

General instructions

  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Before any dental procedures, tell your dentist that you have mitral valve stenosis. You may need antibiotics to prevent a heart infection.
  • If you plan to become pregnant, talk with your health care provider first.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You feel more tired than usual when doing physical activity.
  • You have a dry cough.

Get help right away if:

  • You have pain or pressure in your chest that does not go away.
  • You have difficulty breathing.
  • You have palpitations.
  • You have a sudden weight gain.
  • You have swelling in your feet, ankles, or legs.
  • You have trouble staying awake or you faint.
  • You feel confused.

These symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Get medical help right away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

Summary

  • Mitral valve stenosis is a narrowing of the mitral valve. This condition can limit blood flow on the left side of your heart.
  • Depending on how severe your condition is, you may be treated with medicines, a procedure, or surgery.
  • Practice heart-healthy habits to manage this condition. These include limiting alcohol, avoiding nicotine and tobacco, and eating a balanced diet that is low in salt (sodium).
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