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Mitral regurgitation - acute
Alternative namesMitral insufficiency; Acute mitral regurgitation
DefinitionAcute mitral regurgitation is disorder in which the heart's mitral valve suddenly does not close properly, causing blood to leak (back-flow) into the left atrium (upper heart chamber) when the left ventricle (lower heart chamber) contracts.
Causes, incidence, and risk factorsRegurgitation (leaking from insufficient valve closure) is caused by diseases that weaken or damage the valve or its supporting structures. Inadequate closure of the mitral valve causes blood to flow back to the left atrium. The blood flow to the rest of the body is decreased as a result and the heart may pump harder to try to compensate.
Acute mitral regurgitation may be the result of dysfunction or injury to the valve following a heart attack or infective endocarditis (infection of the heart valve). These conditions may rupture the valve, the papillary muscle or chordae tendineae (the structures that anchor the valve cusps). A rupture of these structures results in the valve leaflet prolapsing or flailing (protruding) into the atrium, leaving an opening for the backflow of blood.
Risk factors include a recent individual history of the disorders mentioned above.
Signs and tests
Palpation may show thrill (vibration) over the heart. A stethoscope may reveal a distinctive murmur in the heart. However, this murmur may be absent in some cases of acute mitral regurgitation. If fluid backs up into the lungs, there may be crackles heard in the lungs. Blood pressure is usually normal. Billowing of the mitral valve and/or regurgitation of blood may be seen on:
A chest X-ray may also show fluid in the lungs or prominent pulmonary veins. Swan-Ganz ( right heart catheterization ) pressure readings will record a marked elevation of left atrial pressure. An ECG usually shows a normal sinus rhythm but may show arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) such as atrial fibrillation . Atrial fibrillation is more common in chronic mitral regurgitation, however. Other tests may include a chest MRI scan , radionuclide scans, or a CT scan of the chest .
Hospitalization may be required for diagnosis and treatment of severe symptoms. The goal of treatment is to control the symptoms. Emergency surgery may be necessary if acute regurgitation is severe, usually resulting from endocarditis (valve infection), heart attack, or ruptured cordae (one of the supporting structures of the mitral valve).
Anticoagulants or antiplatelet medications (blood thinners) may be used to prevent clot formation if atrial fibrillation is present, because atrial fibrillation increases the chances of clot formation. However, this treatment is primarily used for chronic mitral regurgitation.
Expectations (prognosis)The outcome varies and depends on underlying conditions and the severity of the acute regurgitation. Milder forms of acute mitral regurgitation may become a chronic condition. Acute mitral regurgitation can rarely be controlled with medications; surgery is usually necessary to repair or replace the mitral valve (see valve replacement ). Arrhythmias associated with acute mitral regurgitation can sometimes be fatal.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if symptoms indicate mitral valve regurgitation, or if symptoms worsen or do not improve with treatment. Call your health care provider if during treatment, signs of infection occur: fever , chills, muscle aches, headache, or malaise (general ill feeling).
Prompt treatment of causative disorders reduces the risk of mitral regurgitation. Note any history of heart valve disease or congenital heart disease before treatment by a health care provider or dentist.
Update Date: 5/25/2002Seth Keller, M.D., Division of Cardiology, Yale New Haven Medical Center, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT