The heart has valves and chambers to allow blood to enter and be released in order for the body to work. Major heart valves are the aortic valve, tricuspid valve, and the mitral valve.
These valves play important roles and a problem with any of them can affect one’s heart health. One issue in particular is called mitral valve regurgitation and it occurs when the valve does not close properly, allowing the blood to flow backward into the upper heart chamber. When this happens, there can be a lack of blood flow to the rest of the body that can ultimately lead to congestive heart failure.
Mitral valve regurgitation comes in two forms: chronic and acute.
- In chronic mitral valve regurgitation, development occurs slowly and over time.
- In acute mitral valve regurgitation, it can occur suddenly and can be life-threatening.
Causes and risk factors of mitral valve regurgitation
So what would cause the mitral valve to stop functioning properly? Well, although mitral valve regurgitation can occur suddenly, it usually happens after a heart attack. Other conditions as well can weaken the mitral valve, including heart disease, hypertension, infection of the heart valves, mitral valve prolapse, rheumatic heart disease, and swelling of the lower left chamber of the heart.
Factors that can increase one’s risk of developing mitral valve regurgitation include:
- History of mitral valve prolapse or mitral valve stenosis (valves become stiff)
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
- Certain medications
- An infection like endocarditis
- Congenital heart disease
- Age (mitral valve regurgitation occurs more often in those who are middle-aged and older).
Symptoms of mitral valve regurgitation
- Swollen feet or ankles
- Heart palpitations
- Dyspnea – shortness of breath
- Heart murmur – blood flowing excessively through the heart.
Mitral valve regurgitation: Lifestyle changes and home remedies
Living with mitral valve regurgitation is possible as medications can be prescribed to combat hypertension, thin the blood, and release excess water (diuretics). Partaking in a healthy lifestyle can help make living with mitral valve regurgitation easier as well.
More specifically, you should quit smoking, follow a heart-healthy meal plan full of fruits and vegetables, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. Not only will these tips help with mitral valve regurgitation, but they can also boost heart health to reduce the risk of heart attack.