Mitral valve disease is a common heart problem. While you would probably expect classic heart-related symptoms like chest pains from this condition, mitral valve disease may have no symptoms at first, or very mild symptoms that you might dismiss as stress, a busy schedule, or a normal part of aging.\nMitral valve disease can limit quality of life and lead to serious complications, so it’s important to get treatment early. Find out about the types and symptoms of mitral valve disease, and how to talk with your doctor about your treatment options.\nWhat Is Mitral Valve Disease?\nYour mitral valve is one of four heart valves that open and close to allow for healthy blood flow. It links the upper left chamber of your heart (the left atrium) with the bottom left chamber (the left ventricle).\nYour valve has two flaps, called leaflets, which need to open fully and close tightly to allow blood to flow properly.\nWith mitral valve disease, your valve may become narrow, or its leaflets may become weak or damaged. There are two types of mitral valve disease:\n\nMitral valve stenosis, which happens when your mitral valve becomes narrow, or the leaflets become fused together\nMitral valve regurgitation, also called mitral insufficiency, which happens when the leaflets cannot close properly and allow blood to leak backward\n\nMitral Valve Disease Symptoms\nSome people with mitral valve disease may have no symptoms at first, but some warning signs\u00a0can include:\n\nFatigue, or feeling very tired\nShortness of breath\nHeart palpitations, or the sense of feeling your own heartbeat\nCough (can be a dry cough or a cough with blood)\nSwelling in your feet and ankles\nChest pain\nFainting\nAnxiety\n\nMitral valve disease will not improve on its own, so it’s important to talk with your doctor about any of these symptoms. Over time, mitral valve disease can lead to more serious complications, including:\n\nHeart failure, which happens when your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs\nAn enlarged heart\nAtrial fibrillation, a type of heart rhythm problem that raises your risk for stroke\n\nWho Gets Mitral Valve Disease?\nMitral valve disease can affect anyone, but it is more common in older people.\nMitral valve regurgitation is usually caused by a related condition called mitral valve prolapse, in which you have extra leaflet tissue. Over time, the leaflets can stretch or become larger, which allows them to leak. Other causes can include:\n\nEndocarditis, an infection in your heart chambers and valves\nRheumatic fever, an inflammatory condition that can happen because of strep throat\nA previous heart attack\n\nMitral valve stenosis is usually caused by the buildup of calcium on your mitral valve. Other causes can include:\n\nRheumatic fever or scarlet fever in childhood, which can cause the leaflets to thicken or fuse together\nRadiation to your chest during cancer treatment\nCongenital heart defects, or heart problems you’re born with\n\nHow Is it Treated?\nMitral valve disease is usually treated through surgery to repair or replace the damaged valve, which can be:\n\nOpen heart, where a surgeon opens your chest to make the repair or replacement\nMinimally invasive, where a surgeon does not open your chest and instead uses a thin, flexible tube called a catheter to make the repair\n\nOther treatments can include:\n\nFor mitral regurgitation, the use of a device that safely clips the leaflets together\nFor mitral stenosis, the use of a catheter and balloon to open up the fused leaflets\nMedications can also be used to treat the symptoms of heart failure or atrial fibrillation\n\nTalking to My Doctor About Mitral Valve Disease\nIf you’re facing mitral valve repair or replacement, be sure to ask your doctor the following questions:\n\nWhat are all of my options for treatment?\nWhat are the pros and cons of each treatment type?\nIf my valve needs to be replaced, do I need a mechanical valve or a tissue valve?\nHow many of these procedures have you done before?\nWhat exactly will happen during my surgery?\nHow long will I need to stay in the hospital?\nHow soon can I get back to my regular activities?\nAfter my surgery, should I join a cardiac rehabilitation program?\n\nTo learn more about mitral valve disease, visit the UPMC Center for Mitral Valve Disease at\u00a0UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484).