What is Mitral Valve Stenosis?
The mitral valve is located between the heart's left upper chamber (the left atrium) and the heart's lower left chamber (the left ventricle). It opens to allow blood to move out of the atrium and into the ventricle and and then closes to prevent blood from moving in the wrong direction.
When a heart with a healthy mitral valve squeezes, it sends blood from the atrium to the empty left ventricle.
The mitral valve's two flaps — or leaflets — open to allow blood to pass through. When the heart relaxes and the ventricle fills with blood, the flaps close.
Mitral valve stenosis prevents your mitral valve from opening properly, in some cases by causing the two flaps to partially fuse together. This prevents some of the blood from moving out of the atrium.
Causes of mitral valve stenosis
Calcification of the mitral valve commonly causes mitral valve stenosis. As you age, calcium can build up around the valve, leading to a variety of complications.
Mitral valve stenosis can also result from rheumatic fever, a childhood illness that occurs alongside conditions like strep throat or scarlet fever. Complications from these illnesses can damage the mitral valve or even cause it to fuse, though symptoms may not appear until years later. Although extremely rare in the United States due to effective antibiotics, rheumatic fever is still the second leading cause of mitral valve stenosis.
Other causes of mitral stenosis include:
- Prior external radiation to the chest cavity during cancer treatment.
- Prior known history of congenital, or birth-related, abnormalities.
- Some rare medications.
Mitral valve stenosis complications
Without treatment, mitral valve stenosis can lead to:
- Heart failure — a condition in which your heart cannot pump enough blood to meet your body's needs
- Heart enlargement
- Atrial fibrillation
- Blood clots (atrial fibrillation increases the risk of developing blood clots)
- Fluid build-up in the lungs
Why choose UPMC's Center for Mitral Valve Disease for mitral stenosis care?
At the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute's Center for Mitral Valve Disease, our multidisciplinary team of cardiac surgeons, interventional cardiologists, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, and nurses works together to:
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