Definition

What is mitral stenosis?

The mitral valve is a valve located on the left side of your heart, between two chambers, the atrium (upper) and the ventricle (lower). Blood is pumped from the left atrium, through the mitral valve, and into the left ventricle on its way to the aorta. The healthy mitral valve allows blood to pass through, but prevents it from flowing back. Mitral valve stenosis, also known as mitral stenosis, is disease when the mitral valve opening is narrowed. This means that not enough blood can flow through it. This can lead to a variety of issues, including fatigue, difficulty breathing, blood clots, and heart failure. Scarring caused by rheumatic fever is the leading cause of mitral valve stenosis. Rheumatic fever is common in some countries.

How common is mitral stenosis?

Two thirds of all patients with mitral stenosis are female. The onset of symptoms usually occurs between the third and fourth decade of life. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of mitral stenosis?

The common symptoms of mitral stenosis are:

  • Shortness of breath, especially with exertion or when you lie down
  • Fatigue, especially during increased physical activity
  • Swollen feet or legs
  • Heart palpitations — sensations of a rapid, fluttering heartbeat
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Heavy coughing, sometimes with blood-tinged sputum
  • Chest discomfort or chest pain
  • Severe headache, trouble speaking or other symptoms of stroke

Mitral valve stenosis symptoms may appear or worsen anytime your heart rate increases, such as during exercise. An episode of rapid heartbeats may accompany these symptoms. Or they may be triggered by pregnancy or other body stress, such as an infection. 

Mitral valve stenosis may also produce signs that your doctor will find during your examination. These may include:

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes mitral stenosis?

There are three main causes of mitral valve stenosis, include:

Rheumatic fever

A complication of strep throat, rheumatic fever can damage the mitral valve. Rheumatic fever is the most common cause of mitral valve stenosis. It can damage the mitral valve by causing the flaps to thicken or fuse. Signs and symptoms of mitral valve stenosis might not show up for years.

Calcium deposits

As you age, calcium deposits can build up around the ring around the mitral valve (annulus), which can occasionally cause mitral valve stenosis.

Other causes

In rare cases, babies are born with a narrowed mitral valve (congenital defect) that causes problems over time. Surgery is usually recommended to repair congenital mitral stenosis. Other rare causes include radiation to the chest and some autoimmune diseases, such as lupus.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for mitral stenosis?

There are many risk factors for mitral stenosis, such as:

  • History of rheumatic fever
  • Untreated strep infections

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

 

How is mitral stenosis diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects that you may experience this condition, a physical examination will be performed and some tests will be also recommended by your doctor. Some common tests may include:

Transthoracic echocardiogram

Sound waves directed at your heart from a wand-like device (transducer) held on your chest produce video images of your heart in motion. This test is used to confirm the diagnosis of mitral stenosis.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

Wires (electrodes) attached to pads on your skin measure electrical impulses from your heart, providing information about your heart rhythm. You might walk on a treadmill or pedal a stationary bike during an ECG to see how your heart responds to exertion.

Chest X-ray

This enables your doctor to determine whether any chamber of the heart is enlarged and the condition of your lungs.

Transesophageal echocardiogram

A small transducer attached to the end of a tube inserted down your esophagus allows a closer look at the mitral valve than a regular echocardiogram does.

Cardiac catheterization

This invasive technique isn’t performed routinely for mitral stenosis, but it might be used when more information is needed to assess your condition.

How is mitral stenosis treated?

After diagnosing your condition, the doctor will recommend you some treatment options, include:

Drugs and Medication

If your mitral valve stenosis is causing symptoms, your doctor might prescribe medications. Although these do not actually fix the problem with your mitral valve, they can help treat your symptoms.

Valvuloplasty

Your doctor may choose to perform a mitral balloon valvuloplasty. If you need more treatment than just medication, but your mitral valve is not damaged enough to require heart surgery, this procedure is an option.

Surgery

Surgery may become necessary. Your doctor might be able to surgically repair your existing mitral valve to make it function properly. If that isn’t possible, you may need to have your mitral valve replaced with a new one.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage mitral stenosis?

The best way to prevent mitral valve stenosis is to prevent its most common cause, rheumatic fever. You can do this by making sure you and your children see your doctor for sore throats. Untreated strep throat infections can develop into rheumatic fever. Fortunately, strep throat is usually easily treated with antibiotics.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: August 23, 2017 | Last Modified: August 23, 2017

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