Mitral Valve Disease Specialist in Orange County CA

The mitral valve is one of 4 valves in the heart and connects the left atrium and the left ventricle. It helps control blood flow through these chambers of the heart. However, the mitral valve can cause various problems due to mitral valve disease.

Mitral Valve Stenosis

This is when the valve opening becomes too narrow because it doesn’t open as far as it should, restricting blood flow through the heart. This occurs when the valve is stiff, scarred or the valve flaps are partially joined together.

Causes of Mitral Valve Stenosis

Almost all cases of mitral valve stenosis are caused by rheumatic fever. This is typically a childhood disease, but occurs when strep throat is left untreated and can be a serious complication of strep. This condition causes inflammation of joints an the heart, mainly. This inflammation can lead to the scarring, stiffness, and swelling that leads to mitral valve stenosis. Unfortunately, many people don’t even know they have a rheumatic fever until they get treated for one of the complications. This is fairly uncommon in the U.S. due to a widespread use of antibiotics for strep treatment.

The biggest risk factor for mitral valve stenosis is not being treated properly for strep throat, since that leads to rheumatic fever. We tend to see mitral valve stenosis in less developed countries, or in older demographics who didn’t have easy access to antibiotic treatment when they were younger.

Mitral Valve Regurgitation

This is when the mitral valve is letting blood leak backward into the heart. Valves are supposed to act like one-way gates, and when a valve is damaged, it can lead to regurgitation or leaking.

Causes of Mitral Valve Regurgitation

The most common type of mitral valve regurgitation is chronic. This can happen by two methods, which both develop slowly:
Primary Regurgitation – This is a fundamental issue with the anatomy of the valve, meaning the mitral valve doesn’t close tightly. This can be caused by calcium build-up or a complication from mitral valve prolapse.
Secondary Regurgitation – This means another heart condition caused the mitral valve regurgitation. Heart failure, heart attack, endocarditis can all have mitral valve regurgitation as a complication.
Acute Regurgitation – This is more rare, but also more life-threatening. Instead of slowly developing over time, this occurs when the valve or tissue rupture suddenly, creating a more instantaneous build-up of blood on the left side of the heart. The heart has a more difficult time adjusting to this rather than a chronic regurgitation condition.

Mitral Valve Prolapse

As the valve closes to control blood flow, prolapse is when the valve bulges out a little after closing, ballooning out a little bit. It doesn’t affect blood flow, and only affects the shape of the valve after it closes.

Causes of Mitral Valve Prolapse

The exact causes are unknown, but it seems to be hereditary. Other medical conditions may be a risk factor for mitral valve prolapse as well, such as any connective tissue problems. Luckily, it’s very rare for mitral valve prolapse to cause any problems or complications. However, it can be a risk factor for other heart conditions such as mitral valve regurgitation. Most people don’t need treatment and it won’t affect their lives. But continue monitoring of our condition is needed just in case it develops to something worse.

Treating Mitral Valve Disease

For most cases, mitral valve repair is used to treat more minor cases of mitral valve disease. For more serious cases, mitral valve replacement may be necessary. At The Bethencourt Group, we pride ourselves in our experience with minimally invasive robotic cardiac surgery to treat mitral valve disorders.

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