The Mitral valve also known as the bicuspid valve or left atrioventricular valve is a heart valve which regulates the flow of blood between the two left chambers of the heart. It controls the flow of blood from the left atrium to the left ventricle of the heart and prevents the flow in the opposite direction. Whenever the mitral valve malfunctions in some way or the other it is termed a Mitral Valve disorder.
Mitral Valve disorders are of the following three types:
- Mitral Valve Prolapse
- Mitral Stenosis
- Mitral Regurgitation
Mitral valve prolapse is a valve disorder in which the one or more of the valve flaps also known as cusps are enlarged. The supporting muscles of these cusps become too long and instead of closing evenly, one or both of the flaps collapse or bulge into the left atrium. This condition is also known as click murmur syndrome because when the flap collapses it produces a clicking sound an an adjoining murmur is heard.
Mitral Stenosis is a condition which arises when the valve does not open properly and it prevents blood from flowing from the lungs into the ventricles. The valve becomes narrowed in this case and it causes the blood to remain static in the heart’s upper left chamber instead of flowing into the lower left chamber. Mitral Stenosis is always caused by a rheumatic fever when the immune system launches an attack on the cusps following some infections. These attacks cause the cusps to be stiff and thickened, hence they do not open properly. The condition may also be attributed to aging and a deposits of calcium on the ring around the valve where the cusps and the heart muscles meet. This condition is also rarely passed down through family members.
Mitral regurgitation, also known as mitral insufficiency or mitral incompetence arises in case of a leaky mitral valve. i.e. The valve does not close properly and it allows a back flow of blood into the lungs when the heart muscles are squeezed. The blood flowing backwards into the lungs causes shortness of breath. This condition may take years to reveal itself and in the long run this can cause a pressure build up in the lungs or cause enlargement of the heart. Mitral regurgitation is caused by a weakened mitral valve. The valve can be weakened because of rheumatic fever, injury following a heart attack or due to an infection of the heart’s inner lining.
The general symptoms of Mitral Valve disorder include :
- Palpitations i.e. rapid and irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath or dyspnea
- Shortness of breath when lying flat i.e. Orthopnoea
- Pulmonary Hypertension
Diagnosis is usually done first following a physical examination and listening to characteristic murmurs or click sounds. Then an ECG or other ultrasound tests are conducted to confirm the condition.
Treatment options vary from medicines to various surgical procedures like Valve repair and valve replacement. Treatment option depends on the complications of the symptoms.