What is Mitral Valve Stenosis?
Mitral valve stenosis, commonly known as mitral stenosis, is a condition characterized by narrowing of the mitral valve of the heart. This defective valve does not open properly, preventing blood flow into your heart's main pumping chamber (left ventricle).
Causes of Mitral Valve Stenosis
Causes of mitral valve stenosis include:
- Rheumatic fever
- Calcium deposits
- Radiation therapy
- Congenital heart defect
- Certain autoimmune diseases such as lupus
Symptoms of Mitral Valve Stenosis
Signs and symptoms of mitral valve stenosis include:
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen feet or legs
- Sensations of a rapid, fluttering heartbeat (palpitations)
- Chest discomfort or chest pain
- Coughing up blood
- Dizziness or fainting
- Heart murmur
- Fluid buildup in the lungs
- Irregular heart rhythms
Diagnosis of Mitral Valve Stenosis
Your doctor will review your medical history and symptoms and based on this a physical examination that includes listening to your heart using a stethoscope will be performed. Your doctor may also recommend the following diagnostic test:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): This test records the heart’s electrical activity.
- Chest x-rays: Chest radiography is performed to assess heart size, lung disorders, or detect tumors in the chest cavity. A chest X-ray also shows the condition of the lungs.
- Cardiac Catheterization: Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive procedure sometimes used to diagnose and treat certain heart conditions. It involves passing a thin flexible tube through a blood vessel in the groin or arm up to the heart. It can help visualize the blood vessels and chambers of the heart with X-rays using a special dye. Instruments attached to the catheter tip can be used to treat the area of blockage.
- Transthoracic Echocardiogram: Sound waves from a wand-like instrument (transducer) held on your chest are directed at your heart, producing video images of your heart in motion. This test is used to confirm a mitral valve stenosis diagnosis.
- Transesophageal Echocardiogram: Sound waves from the transducer inserted down your esophagus is used to create images of the heart. This allows your doctor to see the mitral valve in greater detail than a standard echocardiogram.
Treatment for Mitral Valve Stenosis
A mitral valve problem can't be fixed with medication. However, certain medications can reduce symptoms by reducing heart strain and optimizing heart rhythm. Medications, such as diuretics to minimize fluid buildup in your lungs, blood thinners to avoid blood clots, and beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers to lower your heart rate, may be prescribed by your doctor.
Surgery or Other Procedures
Mitral valve stenosis may require valve repair or replacement, which may be done by surgical and nonsurgical treatments.
- Percutaneous Balloon Mitral Valvuloplasty: A doctor inserts a soft, thin tube (catheter) tipped with a balloon into an artery in your arm or groin and guides it to the constricted valve during this procedure, It is also known as balloon valvotomy. The balloon is inflated once it is in place to expand the valve and improve blood flow. The balloon is subsequently deflated, and the balloon-attached catheter is withdrawn.
- Surgical Commissurotomy: If balloon valvuloplasty is not a treatment option, a heart surgeon may perform open-heart surgery to clean the valve channel of calcium deposits and other scar tissue. During the surgical commissurotomy, you will be placed on a heart-lung bypass machine. If your mitral valve stenosis reappears, the treatment may need to be redone.
- Mitral Valve Replacement: If the mitral valve cannot be repaired, surgery to replace it with a mechanical valve or a valve made from pig, cow, or human heart tissue may be considered (biological tissue valve).