Mitral valve regurgitation is when the blood goes back due to the not proper closure of the mitral valve. The mitral valve is between the left atrium and the left ventricle. In mitral valve regurgitation, the valve cannot tightly close and thus the blood goes back to the atrium. This causes increase of the pressure in blood vessels that supply blood to the atrium. The left heart has to work harder to pump blood in the body, which can lead to chronic heart failure. The mitral valve regurgitation may appear alongside with mitral stenosis.



The symptoms of mitral valve regurgitation are usually developing gradually, in a few months and years, but can appear suddenly, if the cause is heart attack or valve infection. These are the symptoms:

  • unexplainable fatigue
  • lack of breath during strain
  • cough
  • heart murmur
  • heart palpitations
  • heart pounding

Symptoms of heart failure may also appear, such as shortness of breath, during resting and straining, and the consequence is lung fluid. The accumulation of fluids in tissues causes swelling of joints.



The cause of mitral valve regurgitation in small number of cases is present at birth, due to Marphain syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. Any disease that damages the mitral valve may cause mitral valve regurgitation.

One of the main causes in the past was rheumatic fever, which is very rare today in the developed countries, thanks to the use of antibiotics.

More frequent causes of mitral valve regurgitation are:

  • infectious endocarditis
  • hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – thickening of the left ventricle wall can cause deformity of the valve
  • damaged tissue cords of the mitral valve
  • heart attack – if part of the muscle affected is on this side
  • mitral valve prolapse
  • prolonged use of certain medications (for migraine or other conditions)


Risk Factors

The factors that increase the risks for mitral valve regurgitation are:

  • mitral valve stenosis
  • heart attack
  • infectious endocarditis
  • mitral valve prolapse
  • rheumatic fever
  • congenital heart disease
  • age



The complication of mitral valve regurgitation may lead to enlargement of the left atrium, further leading to atrial fibrillation. If the atrium is enlarged so much that it can’t empty the blood, blood clots may form. If these blood clots get into an artery supplying blood to the brain, stroke can be a complication. Pulmonary hypertension is also a possible complication, which develops when the high blood pressure affects the lung arteries.

Another possible complication is infection of the mitral valve during dentist visit or surgery of the digestive or urinary tract.



Prevention of mitral valve regurgitation is possible with regular doctor’s visits. If it is diagnosed early, it can be more successfully treated. It can also be prevented if you take care of the risk factors that can cause mitral valve regurgitation, such as rheumatic fever, heart attack, high blood pressure or mitral valve prolapse.