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Cardiac » Cardiac Surgery

Mitral Valve Stenosis - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

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The mitral valve stands between the left atrium and ventricle, i.e., the left upper and lower chambers, of a human heart.

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When the flaps in this valve can’t open wide enough, become stiff, scarred, or partially fused with each other, the condition is termed as Mitral Valve Stenosis.

This heart abnormality can cause infections like endocarditis, arrhythmia, stroke, and heart failure too if left undiagnosed or untreated.

Causes of Mitral Valve Stenosis

One of the leading causes of Mitral Stenosis is rheumatic fever. However, treating the streptococcal infection, that causes rheumatic fever, can help in preventing this disease.

Rheumatic fever is common in children. In an acute case of this disease, the joints and heart get affected before anything else. Inflammation of joints and the lining, muscles, and membrane of heart follow. Even after the fever attacks the mitral valve, symptoms may not show up for as long as a decade after the fever incidence.

Other than rheumatic fever, Mitral Valve Stenosis can also be caused by tumors, radiation exposure, calcium buildup, blood clots, and congenital factors.

Symptoms of Mitral Stenosis

Since it’s a heart condition, short breath, rapid heartbeat, fatigue, palpitations, and weakness are common signs. Other indications include a cough (sometimes with blood), chest pain, respiratory infections, swollen feet, and plum-colored cheeks. However, it is possible for Mitral Valve Stenosis to offer no symptoms at all.

Diagnosing This Heart Condition

A doctor can catch hearts murmurs, characteristic of arrhythmia, using a stethoscope. An electrocardiogram or a Holter monitoring test may be carried out to check for the rhythm abnormalities in the heart.

Stress tests are also useful techniques since they let the patient perform mild to moderate aerobic exercise and monitor their heart’s response to the extended physical activity.

Echocardiograms, X-Rays, cardiac catheterization, and transesophageal echocardiograms are used to further clarify the matter by taking out heart images and analyzing the valve’s condition. Simple and transesophageal echocardiograms use ultrasound waves for the purpose.

Cardiac catheterization is most invasive, risky, yet accurate among all the diagnostic methods for Mitral Stenosis. It involves inserting a thin tube via the arm, neck, or thigh, and into the heart. Several tests are carried out using this pipe.

Treatment for Mitral Valve Stenosis

In cases of mild stenosis, the condition doesn’t require treatment. In cases where symptoms appear more often, anticoagulants, antiarrhythmics, diuretics, beta-blockers, and similar medications are prescribed to the patient. The drugs don’t cure Mitral Stenosis. However, they help in dealing with the symptoms.

In a moderate case, Valvuloplasty may be performed. This procedure is chosen when the mitral valve is damaged enough that the symptoms can’t be treated with medications alone, but not destroyed to a point where heart surgery becomes a necessity.

Treating high-risk cases of Mitral Valve Stenosis include replacing the poorly functional valve with a new mechanical or biological one. However, if left untreated for any reason, not only can the defect in the mitral valve cause conditions like endocarditis and arrhythmia, it can also lead to heart failure, fluid accumulation in the lungs, and pulmonary hypertension.

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