Mitral regurgitation is the most common type of heart valve disorder.
Blood that flows between different chambers of your heart must flow through a valve. The valve between the two chambers on the left side of your heart is called the mitral valve.
When the mitral valve doesn't close all the way, blood flows backward into the upper heart chamber (atrium) from the lower chamber as it contracts. This leads to a decrease in blood flow to the rest of the body. As a result, the heart may try to pump harder. This may lead to congestive heart failure.
Mitral regurgitation may begin suddenly, most often after a heart attack. When the regurgitation does not go away, it becomes long-term (chronic).
Many other diseases or problems can weaken or damage the valve or the heart tissue around the valve and cause mitral regurgitation:
- Coronary heart disease and high blood pressure
- Infection of the heart valves
- Mitral valve prolapse (MVP)
- Rare causes, such as untreated syphilis or marfan syndrome
- Rheumatic heart disease, a complication of untreated strep throat (which is becoming less common because of effective treatment)
- Swelling of the left lower heart chamber
Risk factors include a personal or family history of any of the disorders mentioned above, and use of fenfluramine or dexfenfluramine (appetite suppressants banned by the FDA) for 4 or more months.