Table of contents:
- Main symptoms
- How to confirm the diagnosis
- Mitral regurgitation degrees
- Possible causes
- How the treatment is done
- Care during treatment
Mitral regurgitation, also called mitral regurgitation, occurs when there is a defect in the mitral valve, which is a structure in the heart that separates the left atrium from the left ventricle. When this happens, the mitral valve does not close fully, causing a small volume of blood to return to the lungs instead of leaving the heart to irrigate the body.
People with mitral regurgitation usually have symptoms such as shortness of breath after light exertion, constant coughing and excessive tiredness.
The circulation is more impaired the more damaged the mitral valve, which normally loses strength with age, or after a myocardial infarction, for example.However, mitral regurgitation can also be a birth defect. Either way, mitral regurgitation needs to be treated by a cardiologist who can prescribe medication or surgery.
Mitral regurgitation symptoms may take years to appear, since this change happens progressively, and is therefore more frequent in people with a little more advanced age. The main symptoms of mitral regurgitation are:
- Shortness of breath, especially when exerting yourself or going to sleep;
- Excessive fatigue;
- Cough, especially at night;
- Palpitations and racing heart;
- Swelling in the feet and ankles.
In the presence of these symptoms, a cardiologist should be consulted so that the diagnosis can be made and the most appropriate treatment started.
How to confirm the diagnosis
The diagnosis of mitral regurgitation is made by the cardiologist based on symptoms, clinical and family history of heart problems and through tests such as auscultating the heart with a stethoscope to assess any noise or noise during the heartbeat, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, x-ray, computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, and exercise stress test, to assess the functioning of the heart.
Another type of examination that the cardiologist may request is catheterization, which allows viewing the heart from the inside and assessing damage to the heart valves. Learn how heart catheterization is performed.
Mitral regurgitation degrees
Mitral regurgitation can be classified into a few degrees according to the severity of symptoms and the cause, the main ones being:
1. Mild mitral regurgitation
Mild mitral regurgitation, also called mild mitral regurgitation, does not produce symptoms, is not serious and does not require treatment, being identified only during a routine examination when the doctor hears a different sound when auscultating the heart with the stethoscope.
2. Moderate mitral regurgitation
This type of mitral regurgitation causes non-specific symptoms that are not severe, such as tiredness, for example, and immediate treatment is not required. In these cases, the doctor just listens to the person's heart and prescribes tests every 6 to 12 months, such as an echocardiogram or chest X-ray, to look at the mitral valve and see if the mitral regurgitation has worsened.
3. Severe mitral regurgitation
Severe mitral regurgitation causes symptoms of shortness of breath, coughing and swelling of the feet and ankles, and it is usually recommended by the doctor the use of medication or surgery to correct or replace the valve depending on the person's age.
Mitral regurgitation can happen acutely due to a rupture of the heart muscle caused by acute myocardial infarction, infective endocarditis or side effect of radiotherapy or medications, such as fenfluramine or ergotamine, for example.In these cases, surgery to repair or replace the valve may be recommended.
Other diseases can alter the functioning of the mitral valve and cause chronic mitral insufficiency, such as rheumatic diseases, mitral valve prolapse, calcification of the mitral valve itself or congenital valve deficiency, for example. This type of insufficiency is progressive and must be treated with medication or surgery.
Furthermore, mitral regurgitation can occur as a result of aging, and there is also an increased risk of developing mitral regurgitation if there is a family history of the disease.
How the treatment is done
Treatment for mitral regurgitation varies according to the severity of the disease, symptoms or if the disease worsens, and aims to improve cardiac function, reducing signs and symptoms and preventing future complications.
1. Medical follow-up
Mild or mild mitral regurgitation may not require treatment, and regular medical follow-up is recommended and the frequency will depend on the severity of the disease. In these cases, the doctor may recommend he althy lifestyle changes such as a balanced diet and light physical activity such as walking. Learn how to have a balanced diet.
2. Use of medication
In cases where the person has symptoms or the mitral regurgitation is severe or chronic, for example, the doctor may indicate the use of some medications such as:
- Diuretics: these remedies help reduce swelling and fluid buildup in the lungs or legs;
- Anticoagulants: are indicated to help prevent blood clots and can be used in cases of atrial fibrillation;
- Antihypertensives: used to control blood pressure, as high blood pressure can worsen mitral regurgitation.
These medications help treat and control symptoms, but do not treat the cause of mitral regurgitation.
3. Cardiac surgery
Cardiac surgery, called valvuloplasty, may be indicated by the cardiologist in more severe cases, to correct or replace the mitral valve and avoid complications such as heart failure, atrial fibrillation or pulmonary hypertension. Understand how valvuloplasty is performed for mitral regurgitation.
Care during treatment
Some lifestyle measures are important during the treatment of mitral regurgitation and include:
- Get medical follow-up to control high blood pressure;
- Maintain a he althy weight;
- No smoking;
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine;
- Do physical exercises recommended by the doctor;
- Having a he althy and balanced diet.
For women who have mitral regurgitation and wish to become pregnant, a medical evaluation should be performed before becoming pregnant to verify if the heart valve tolerates a pregnancy, as pregnancy makes the heart work harder. In addition, during pregnancy and after childbirth, regular follow-up with the cardiologist and obstetrician should be carried out.
In cases of people who have had valvuloplasty, and need to have some dental treatment, the doctor should prescribe antibiotics to prevent a heart valve infection called infective endocarditis. See how bacterial endocarditis is treated.