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The human heart has four valves — mitral, tricuspid, pulmonary and aortic. These valves have flaps that open and close with each heartbeat.
The mitral valve is located between the upper and lower left chambers of the heart, the left atrium and left ventricle. In mitral valve disease, the valve doesn’t function properly, either by not closing as it should, or because the valve itself is too narrow.
There are two main types of mitral valve disease:
Signs and symptoms of mitral valve disease. Some people don’t experience any symptoms related to mitral valve disease, but others do. Common symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, swelling in ankles and feet, or an irregular heartbeat. Additionally, your doctor may hear an abnormal heart sound (heart murmur) while listening to your heart with a stethoscope. If you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms, see your physician.
Diagnosis of mitral valve disease. Detection of a heart murmur by a doctor during a physical exam may lead to a referral to a cardiologist and further testing. An echocardiography (ECHO) is the most common test used to diagnose the condition, but your doctor may also order an electrocardiogram (EKG) or chest X-ray. If confirmed, more tests, such as a cardiac stress test or cardiac MRI may be ordered to help determine severity.
Treatment of mitral valve disease. Not all cases of mitral valve disease require treatment, but when treatment is warranted, it can range from diet and exercise recommendations to surgery, based on condition severity. Medications don’t currently exist to treat valve disease, however there are medications that can treat its symptoms. In addition to medication, a treatment plan may include:
Learn more about cardiac care at Edward-Elmhurst Health.
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