What are the types of mitral valve regurgitation?

Mitral valve regurgitation, also known as mitral regurgitation, mitral insufficiency, or mitral incompetence, is the most common type of heart valve disease, affecting more than 2% of the population. Though mild mitral valve regurgitation does not usually cause issues, it is a condition that can worsen with time and lead to more severe symptoms. Below, we will be looking at what this condition is, what the common causes are, and some symptoms of mitral valve regurgitation that are helpful to know.

What is mitral regurgitation?

Mitral regurgitation occurs when the flaps covering the heart’s mitral valve do not close properly. These flaps are responsible for regulating the blood flow from the heart’s left atrium to the left ventricle, but when the flaps do not close tightly, blood may leak backward. This can increase blood pressure in the heart, and, in cases of severe mitral valve regurgitation, fluid buildup in the lungs can also occur.

Functional vs. degenerative mitral regurgitation

There are two main types of mitral regurgitation: functional and degenerative. While the symptoms are the same, the cause of the mitral regurgitation is different with each.

Functional mitral regurgitation occurs when leakage is caused by an issue outside of the valve, such as disease of the left ventricle.

Degenerative mitral regurgitation occurs when the mitral valve itself is dysfunctional.

What is the most common cause of mitral regurgitation?

Any condition that can damage the tissues in the heart can be a cause of mitral valve regurgitation, which is commonly associated with heart disease and high blood pressure. Additionally, it can also be caused by an infection of the heart valves, mitral valve prolapse, or rheumatic heart disease.

Symptoms of mitral valve regurgitation

In most cases, the progression of mitral valve regurgitation is slow and symptoms may not manifest for many years. In instances of acute mitral regurgitation, its impact can develop much more quickly — but in both cases, symptoms are the same. They can include:

  • Heart murmurs
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Swollen feet or ankles

Fatigue is also a common symptom of mitral valve regurgitation, which is thought to manifest due to the heart having to work harder to move blood through the body.

Because mitral valve regurgitation is a fairly common condition, there are plenty of support options available to patients, including advocacy organizations and clinical trial participation. Taking part in medical research can open the door to new treatment options, and studies are underway now. Use the button below to find a research opportunity today.