Mitral regurgitation (or “MR”) is a condition affecting one of the valves in your heart, the mitral valve. The valves in your heart control the flow of blood through the four chambers of your heart. Each heart valve is made up of thin, but strong flaps of tissue. As blood flows through the four chambers of the heart, the valves open and close to ensure that blood flows in the right direction.
The mitral valve is located between your heart’s two left chambers and allows blood to flow forward through your heart during a normal heart- beat. When the mitral valve fails to close completely, blood flows backward in the opposite direction. This backward flow is called mitral regurgitation.
There are several causes of mitral regurgitation. These include:
Mitral regurgitation places an extra burden on the heart, lungs, and other organs. Some patients may develop an enlarged heart because it has to work harder to pump blood through the body. Eventually, this extra burden can cause other, more serious problems to your heart (such as heart failure) and may result in irregular heartbeats, stroke, and even sudden death.
Some people with mitral valve disease might not experience symptoms for many years. Signs and symptoms of mitral valve regurgitation, which depend on its severity and how quickly the condition develops, can include:
It depends on how advanced the condition is and if the condition is getting worse. For mild cases, no treatment may be necessary, but you will need to be monitored regularly by your doctor. For more serious cases, surgery or less-invasive mitral valve repair techniques may be required.
When needed, your physician may prescribe medicines that can help to make your symptoms more manageable. While these medicines manage your symptoms caused by mitral regurgitation, they do not treat the defect in the mitral valve itself.
In some cases, your doctor may recommend surgical treatment to repair or replace the valve. mitral valve repair preserves your own valve, while mitral valve replacement (performed when repair is not possible) replaces your damaged valve with an artificial one. Both valve repair and valve replacement require open-heart surgery.
In certain cases, your doctor may recommend a less-invasive treatment, such as MitraClip therapy, that does not involve open-heart surgery. Patients who have less-invasive valve repair usually have a shorter recovery time.
Unlike traditional surgery, the MitraClipTM procedure does not require opening the chest. During the procedure, a small implanted clip is attached to the mitral valve by a doctor to help mitral valve close more completely. This helps to restore normal blood flow through patient’s heart.
A MitraClip procedure is carried out under a general anaesthesia in catheterization laboratory with assistance of trans-esophageal echocardiography (TEE) and X-rays. During the procedure, doctors access the mitral valve with a thin tube (called a catheter) that is guided through a vein in patient’s leg to reach the heart. The MitraClip is then clipped to the mitral valve and help it close completely. A procedure usually takes three to four hours on average but it can vary due to different anatomies. The length of hospital stay is around one to five days following the procedure.