How do you take care of your heart after 40?
As you find yourself hitting 40, you may start thinking about health issues you previously didn’t concern yourself with. Should heart health be one of them?
Mitral valve regurgitation is a condition in which the mitral valve of the heart does not close properly. When this happens, each time the heart beats or contracts, some of the blood leaks backward into a heart chamber called the left atrium. This condition makes the heart work harder to pump blood throughout the body.
Mitral valve regurgitation can be caused by:
Symptoms of mitral valve regurgitation can include:
Symptoms may worsen with exertion.
Mitral valve regurgitation may be suspected if a physician detects abnormal sounds, such as a heart murmur, through a stethoscope. To further define the nature and extent of the valve disease, physicians may use tests including:
Drugs prescribed to relieve the symptoms of mitral valve regurgitation include diuretics and drugs used to lower blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause mitral valve regurgitation, or aggravate its severity, so lowering blood pressure is often a way to reduce its severity, decrease symptoms and avoid or delay the need for surgery.
Many people who have mitral valve regurgitation may not require treatment; it depends on severity. Those with mild mitral valve regurgitation rarely require specific treatment. If you have this condition, your physician should regularly monitor you to make sure it does not worsen, or permanently damage or weaken your heart to the point where surgery would not be necessary.
Both mitral valve repair and replacement require open heart surgery. At Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center, minimally invasive surgery is frequently performed instead. This involves a smaller incision and usually a shorter recovery time. In the future, some types of mitral valve regurgitation may be repaired without the need for open heart surgery. Studies are under way to develop approaches that could be performed in the cath lab to repair a defective or leaky valve.