Mitral valve regurgitation


Mitral valve regurgitation is also known as mitral regurgitation (MR), mitral insufficiency and mitral incompetence. Mitral valve regurgitation occurs from incomplete closing of the valve between the left heart chambers, which causes blood to back flow from the valve. It can lead to the heart cannot supply enough blood to the rest of the body.

There are many treatment options available, including receiving a checkup regularly, medications and surgery.

Unlike mild regurgitation, if mitral valve regurgitation has become severe, the patient will need proper treatment as it can lead to fatal symptoms such as heart arrhythmias and heart failure.

In case of severe mitral valve regurgitation, a doctor might need to repair or replace the mitral valve with a catheter procedure or heart surgery.


People with mild mitral regurgitation often do not have any symptoms and may progress slowly. However, mitral valve regurgitation symptoms can appear when the disease gets worse.

The warning signs and symptoms of mitral valve disease are:

  • Fatique
  • Heart murmurs
  • Heart arrhythmias (irregular heart beat)
  • Difficulty breathing, especially when lying down
  • Swollen feet or ankles
  • Chest pain

If you feel you have any symptoms that makes you suspect mitral valve regurgitation or any other cardiac problems, you are recommended to see a cardiologist immediately.


A normal heart has four valves responsible for regulating blood flow, including the mitral valve. Every heartbeat causes the leaflets on each valve to open and close once. Mitral valve regurgitation causes the leaflets of the mitral valve to be unable to close completely. This leads to blood flowing up from the valve after leaflets close, causing disruption of the heart’s natural flow and reduces blood flow to the entire body. Functional or secondary mitral regurgitation is used to describe when a defect of another area in the heart causes blood leakage in the mitral valve.

Mitral valve regurgitation can be caused by many factors, including:

  • Mitral valve prolapse: in which the mitral valve cannot close completely when the heart contracts, causing blood to back up from the valve.
  • Rheumatic fever: The damage to the heart tissue including valves might result from untreated streptococcal throat infection, causing an injury to the mitral valve and cause rheumatic mitral valve disease over time.
  • Heart attack: can cause decreased blood flow to the area of the heart that support the mitral valve, leading to sudden and severe mitral valve regurgitation. It is also called ischemic mitral regurgitation.
  • Congenital heart defect: present at birth and can cause an abnormal heart structure and heart valves.
  • Cardiomyopathy: The heart must work harder to pump blood to organs around the body if the heart muscle gets thickened disrupting the function of the mitral valve and can cause valve regurgitation. Some types of cardiomyopathy that raise the risk of developing mitral valve regurgitation such as dilated cardiomyopathy and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
  • Damaged tissue cords: If the tissue cords of the leaflets of the mitral valve are stretched or torn, blood might suddenly leak through the mitral valve, which is more common in those with mitral valve prolapse and may require mitral valve repair surgery.
  • Endocarditis: If tissue of the heart or a heart valve is infected, that can injure the mitral valve.
    Radiation therapy: This kind of therapy is used to treat cancer can be a rare cause of mitral valve regurgitation as the radiation is aimed at the chest area.

Risk factors

The following factors can increase risk of mitral valve regurgitation:

  • Some types of heart-affecting infection
  • Heart failure
  • Congenital heart disease
  • History of having another cardiac disease that affects a heart valve, including mitral valve prolapse and mitral valve stenosis
  • Aging
  • Receiving chest radiation therapy