For blood to go in only one direction, forward, it must pass through the heart valves, which function as one-way doors, opening and shutting with each beat of the heart. Just as there are four chambers to the heart, there are four heart valves. Blood must pass through one of these valves each time it leaves a chamber.
The Four Heart Valves:
- Tricuspid: The tricuspid valve is named because it has three leaflets. It is located between the right atrium and right ventricle.
- Pulmonary: The pulmonary valve is named because it is located below the pulmonary artery, between the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery.
- Mitral: The mitral valve is named because it looks like an upside down bishop’s hat or mitre. It is the only heart valve with two leafets; all of the others have three. It is located between the left atrium and left ventricle.
- Aortic: The aortic valve is named because it is located below the aorta, between the left ventricle and aorta.
The mitral valve is one of the two main valves on the left side of your heart. Normally, the mitral valve has two flaps (leaflets) that open and close, allowing blood to flow from your left atrium to your left ventricle and preventing it from flowing backward into your heart. Mitral valve disease occurs when the mitral valve doesn’t work properly.
TYPES OF MITRAL VALVE DISEASE
- Stenosis – the valve doesn’t allow enough blood flow
- Regurgitation – blood leaks backwards out of the valve
Mitral valve stenosis is most commonly caused by inflammation from rheumatic fever, a disease that is related to strep infections; however, rheumatic fever is rare in the India and other developed countries, so mitral valve stenosis is becoming less common.
Mitral valve regurgitation can develop slowly (chronic) or suddenly (acute). Chronic regurgitation can be caused by a number of diseases and conditions, including heart infection (endocarditis), high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and mitral valve prolapse, in which the flaps bulge backwards when your heart contracts.
Acute mitral valve regurgitation is caused by a sudden rupture due to a heart attack, chest injury, or inflammation.
Some people may be born with mitral valve abnormalities (congenital).
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CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS OF MITRAL VALVE DISEASE
- Cough – A forceful release of air from your lungs
- Shortness of breath – Feeling that you cannot get enough air
- Chest pain – Discomfort that can be mistaken for indigestion or heartburn
- Dizziness – Feeling faint, woozy, weak or unsteady
- Swollen feet or legs – Buildup of fluid in the ankles, feet and legs
- Fatigue – Feeling easily tired