The heart has four valves that regulate blood flow through the heart. The mitral valve is the heart valve located between the left atrium, or upper chamber of the heart, and left ventricle, or lower chamber of the heart. After the left atrium fills with blood the mitral valve opens to allow the blood to flow down into the left ventricle. When the heart pumps and the left ventricle contracts, the mitral valve closes and blood flows outward through the aortic valve (the exit valve of the heart) and into the circulation of the body.
If the mitral valve does not close properly, blood flows backwards into the left atrium. This back flow is called “regurgitation.” Small amounts of regurgitation are well tolerated, but if the amount increases over time, symptoms such as breathlessness and weakness can result. The heart muscle grows larger due to increased work load and becomes a less efficient pump.
Medicines or heart valve surgery may be recommended as treatment.
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