What is mitral valve disease?
Blood flow in the heart is managed by heart valves. Mitral valve is one such valve located between the chambers of the heart called left atrium and left ventricle.
Mitral valve disease, also known as mitral valve stenosis occurs when this valve becomes narrow. This narrowing of the mitral valve blocks flow of blood into the left ventricle, the main chamber of the heart responsible for pumping blood into the body. As less blood flows into the ventricle, pressure builds up in the atrium. Blood and fluids build up in the chest area and breathing becomes difficult.
This disease can develop 5-10 years after having rheumatic fever (a fever caused by the bacteria streptococcus). Children can have mitral valve disease since birth. Such children may have other heart defects too.
Mitral valve disease in adults may show minimal symptoms initially but can suddenly worsen. Some common symptoms are:
- Shortness of breath
- Extreme tiredness or fatigue
- Swelling in feet
- Coughing with blood
- Chest pain
Common Diagnostic Tests
Mitral valve disease causes an abnormal heart sound and fluid buildup in the chest which can be detected with a stethoscope. Other diagnostic tests include:
ECG (Electrocardiogram): If you have mitral valve disease, your ECG will be abnormal.
Transesophageal echocardiogram: In this test, a transducer is inserted through your mouth into the food pipe (esophagus) to get a more detailed echocardiogram reading.
Echocardiography: In this test, ultrasound waves are directed to the heart through a device called transducer. Different areas bounce off the waves differently these waves are picked up by a recording device to create moving pictures of your heart.
Chest X-ray: Used to see if any chamber of the heart is enlarged.
Basics of managing mitral valve disease
As fluid buildup is one of the main characteristics of this disease, removing water from the body with medication causing diuretic action is important. A healthy lifestyle will help you manage this disease better.
Here are some tips:
- Reduce salt in your diet.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee.
- Avoid alcohol.