Your blood is supposed to follow a one-way path through your heart. It flows in through the top chamber (the left atrium), down to the bottom chamber (the left ventricle), and then out to your body. Your mitral valve separates these two chambers and keeps the blood from flowing backward. In mitral valve regurgitation, your mitral valve does not work as it should and allows blood to flow backward into your upper heart chamber.
Mitral valve regurgitation can happen suddenly (acute) or, more commonly, gradually over time (chronic). Acute mitral valve regurgitation is often caused by damage to the heart, perhaps from a heart attack or a heart infection called endocarditis. There are many possible reasons you can develop chronic mitral valve regurgitation, including mitral valve prolapse, rheumatic heart disease and untreated high blood pressure.
If you have mitral valve regurgitation, you may notice that you feel very tired and that you have a hard time catching your breath when you exercise or when you are lying down. You may also notice swelling in your legs.
Your treatment will depend on the type and severity of your condition and may include medications or surgery. Use this condition center to learn more, create a list of questions to ask your health care provider and get practical tips.