What is Mitral Valve Stenosis?
Mitral valve stenosis is the narrowing of the mitral valve opening where blood flows from the left atrium to the left ventricle. The stenosis limits the flow of blood out of the left atrium and results in an increase in the pressure of blood in the left atrium causing it to enlarge and beat more rapidly in an irregular pattern.
Causes of Mitral Valve Stenosis
The most common cause of mitral valve stenosis is rheumatic heart disease; however only 50 to 70 percent of mitral valve stenosis patients report a history of rheumatic fever. Another cause of mitral valve stenosis is the build-up of calcium deposits around the valve ring of the mitral valve.
Symptoms of Mitral Valve Stenosis
There are a variety of symptoms associated with severe mitral valve stenosis which may include the following:
- breathlessness with activity
- chest pain or discomfort
- fainting, weakness or dizziness with activity
- heart beating rapidly
- inability to perform activities that were once easy
- swollen feet or ankles
Diagnosing Mitral Valve Stenosis
Some common tests to diagnose mitral valve stenosis may include one or more of the following:
- electrocardiogram or ECG
- chest x-ray
- echocardiogram or transthoracic echocardiogram
- cardiac catheterization
Treatment options for Mitral Valve Stenosis
Treatment options for mitral valve stenosis depend on the severity of the disease and may include:
- Medical therapy and medical surveillance may be recommended for mild to moderate mitral valve stenosis
- Balloon valvuloplasty is a treatment option for mitral stenosis caused by rheumatic disease. This procedure uses a catheter with a balloon at the tip that is inflated within the valve, separating the leaflets and allowing the valve to open more freely. The balloon is then deflated and the catheter and balloon are removed.
- Surgical mitral valve repair or replacement, including minimally invasive cardiac surgery techniques or open-heart surgery options. For this procedure, your surgeon will discuss with you the pros and cons of a mechanical or tissue valve.
- Transcatheter mitral valve replacement is currently available as a treatment option for tissue (pig or cow) prosthetic valves that have severe stenosis when re-do heart surgery carries a high risk. The new valve is delivered by a catheter inserted in the groin in lieu of surgery. Transcatheter mitral valve replacement for native mitral valve stenosis is currently under investigation.