Mitral Valve Stenosis
When you are diagnosed with a heart condition like mitral valve stenosis, it’s only natural to feel anxious or overwhelmed. However, at Keyhole London Heart Clinic, we are dedicated to providing as much information as possible to help you, so we have put together this mitral stenosis guide to answer all of your questions. If you have been looking for more information about mitral valve stenosis, the mitral stenosis symptoms, and the best courses of action for mitral valve stenosis treatment, you can find everything you need to know right here.
What Is Mitral Valve Stenosis?
Mitral valve stenosis describes a condition involving thickening and calcification of the mitral valve, which causes the valve to fail to open properly. This impedes the movement of blood from the left atrium to the left ventricle which results in poor flow of blood to the rest of the body. The left atrium thickens and dilates and the blood pressure in the lung arteries starts to rise. This can encourage abnormal heart rhythm disorders like atrial fibrillation to develop, further reducing the efficiency of the heart. Many of these secondary problems become permanent over time and should be avoided by early intervention. The best cause of action to fight this issue is early diagnosis and undertaking mitral valve stenosis treatment.
Mitral Stenosis Causes
This condition is most commonly caused by rheumatic fever, which is a result of the body’s immune response to an infection in early age. However, there are several other causes to be aware of, including:
- Calcium deposits – as you age, calcium deposits can build up around the mitral valve, which can occasionally cause stenosis.
- Radiation therapy – treatment for certain types of cancer that require radiation to your chest area can sometimes cause the valve to thicken and harden.
- Congenital defects – in rare cases, people can be born with a narrowed mitral valve, which can cause problems over time.
Mitral Valve Stenosis Symptoms
Much like with many other heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease, some of the most common symptoms of mitral stenosis are shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, and irregular heart rhythms. However, some symptoms that are particular to this condition are swollen feet or legs, coughing up blood, and fluid build-up in the lungs. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is essential that you get a check up as soon as possible. We offer a heart screening service where we go through a few simple non-invasive tests to understand your current condition and find any irregularities. From here, we will be able to offer advice on treatment.
Potential Mitral Stenosis Complications
Like other heart valve issues, this type of stenosis can put strain on your heart muscle and decrease blood flow. If left untreated, mitral valve stenosis can lead to complications such as:
- Pulmonary hypertension – this refers to high blood pressure in the lung arteries, which causes your heart to work harder.
- Pulmonary edema – with this condition, blood and fluid build up in your lungs, causing shortness of breath and you may cough up blood-tinged mucus.
- Heart failure – the narrowing of the mitral valve will interfere with blood flow, so pressure may increase in the lungs, leading to fluid build-up. This puts a strain on the right side of the heart, potentially leading to heart failure.
- Atrial fibrillation – this heart rhythm problem may be caused by the stretching and enlargement of the heart’s left atrium, which causes the upper chambers of your heart to beat chaotically.
- Blood clots – blood clots could form in the upper left chamber of your heart or break loose and travel to other parts of the body, causing serious problems, such as a stroke.
Mitral Stenosis FAQs
How is mitral stenosis diagnosed?
There are a range of ways to test for stenosis in the mitral valve, but the first step your doctor will take is to understand your medical history and perform a physical exam. This will involve listening to your heart with a stethoscope for a murmur, and your lungs for a build-up of fluid. From there, your doctor will decide which tests are needed to make a diagnosis. This could include an electrocardiogram, a chest X-ray, a transthoracic echocardiogram, a transoesophageal echocardiogram, or cardia catheterisation.
When should I get mitral valve stenosis treatment?
If you have mild to moderate stenosis with no symptoms, you may not need immediate treatment. Instead, your doctor will usually monitor the valve to see if your condition worsens. However, if you do start to experience symptoms regularly, you should seek medical help. To avoid waiting too long for an appointment, we can offer you a mitral valve heart screening and offer advice on the next steps to take.
Mitral Valve Stenosis Treatment
Diuretics (water tablets) are useful in the medical treatment of heart failure associated with mitral stenosis. Drugs like Digoxin are used to control the rate of atrial fibrillation, and patients can be sustained with medical therapy for many years since the progress of this condition is slow. Once the mitral stenosis is severe, surgical treatment is the best option.
Keyhole mitral valve stenosis surgery
Valve replacement is a good treatment for this type of condition once significant shortness of breath develops. There are a few kinds of surgery that can be used as treatment, including keyhole mitral valve replacement. At the Keyhole London Heart Clinic, we would always recommend a minimally invasive keyhole approach, in order to minimise pain, scarring and recovery time for the patient.
Our preferred method of treatment is to perform keyhole mitral valve replacement through a small cut between the ribs on the right side of the chest in suitable candidates without cutting or spreading the ribs. Keyhole mitral valve stenosis surgery should only be undertaken by highly skilled surgeons, as it requires very precise surgery. However, keyhole surgery, versus traditional open-heart surgery, means the patient heals in a matter of days rather than in weeks. The scar is much smaller, more subtle and concealed, and because there is no breastbone break, the patient is in less pain, there is little risk of bone infection, and there is much less bleeding. Below is a diagram of where the keyhole incision might take place:
Have any questions about mitral valve stenosis, our mitral valve stenosis treatment, or any of the other treatments we carry out here at The Keyhole Heart Clinic? Please feel free to get in contact with us. Our friendly team will be more than happy to answer any queries you may have, and help put your mind at ease.
Can mitral valve stenosis go away?
Once the mitral valve has become narrowed and calcified, it is unlikely that it will fix itself. This is typically a lifelong disease that progresses over time. In the early stages, you may experience mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, but as it progresses, the left atrium may become more damaged, causing more severe symptoms. While the mild symptoms may be able to be managed with certain drugs and monitoring, the best course of action for the later stages is keyhole heart surgery.