Mitral valve stenosis, a form of valvular heart disease, is characterized by the narrowing of the opening in the mitral valve, which lies between the left atrium and the left ventricle in the heart. This narrowing can reduce the amount of blood the heart can pump, leaving you tired and often short of breath.
At SSM Health, our heart and vascular care team performs a complete evaluation of all of our patients to determine the best option for treatment. In most cases, the primary treatment for mitral valve stenosis is repair or replacement of the faulty valve.
Causes of Mitral Valve Stenosis
There are three main causes of mitral valve stenosis:
- Rheumatic fever: Rheumatic fever, a complication of strep throat or scarlet fever, is the most common cause of mitral valve stenosis. As a result of rheumatic fever, the mitral valve can thicken, reducing blood flow through the heart. Symptoms may not be seen for many years after the fever.
- Calcium deposits
- Congenital heart defect: On rare occasions, babies are born with a defective valve, which may cause problems over time.
Signs & Symptoms of Mitral Valve Stenosis
The symptoms of mitral valve stenosis depend on the stage of the disease. In the early stages, the symptoms are similar to those of heart failure and may include:
- Shortness of breath with exertion or when lying flat
- Shortness of breath and coughing during the night
- Swollen ankles and feet
- Heart palpitations (rapid, fluttering heartbeat)
- Heavy coughing which may produce blood-stained mucus
Make an appointment with an SSM Health heart and vascular specialist to discuss your symptoms if you notice the signs of mitral valve stenosis. If left untreated, the condition can strain your heart and lead to other, more serious conditions, such as blood clots, heart failure, and pulmonary hypertension.
Treatment of Mitral Valve Stenosis
The primary treatment for mitral valve stenosis is mitral valve repair or replacement surgery. When possible, it is preferred to repair a damaged mitral valve. At SSM Health, this can be done using minimally invasive techniques.
During a valve replacement, a surgeon removes the restricted mitral valve and replaces it with either a mechanical or tissue valve. Mechanical valves are made from metal and are very durable. However, they do carry the risk of blood clots forming nearby. Patients who opt for mechanical valves are put on anticoagulant medication, for life, to prevent this from happening. Tissue valves are sourced from organ donors or compatible animals.
We understand that facing heart surgery may be overwhelming. Whether you’re newly diagnosed, or working through a long-term condition, trust the heart and vascular experts at SSM Health. Our expert cardiovascular surgeon will evaluate the best options for treatment, so you can move forward with confidence.