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Heart failure is a serious, fatal cardiac condition that happens when the heart has to work hard to pump enough oxygen and nutrient-rich blood to the entire body. Problems in any of the heart valves can cause the blood to backflow and often lead to the failure of the heart, shares heart doctor in Delhi at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Dr. Sujay Shad. Thankfully, patients with valve problems can live longer by getting their diseased or damaged valves fixed.
In this post, we will be learning about the mitral valve, its problems, the need to fix mitral valve problems, and about mitral valve repair and replacement with the insights shared by Dr. Sujay Shad.
Mitral Valve Repair

What is the mitral valve and what role does it have?

The mitral valve is one of the heart valves, the tissue flaps/leaflets that open and close at the right time to ensure proper flow of blood in the right direction- from the left atrium (upper left heart chamber) to the left ventricle (upper right heart chamber).

Why is there a need to treat the mitral valve?

When mitral valve functioning gets impaired, the heart pumping gets harder to supply blood to all parts of the body. There is a need to get the mitral valve problem fixed to restore the normal functioning of the mitral valve.

The improper functioning of the mitral valve can be due to:

  • Wear and tear (age-related degeneration) of the mitral valve over time
  • A defect in mitral valve structure or mitral valve abnormality, present at birth
  • A damaged mitral valve or surrounding tissue resulting from untreated hypertension or a heart attack
  • Infection and inflammation of the heart muscles (endocarditis)
  • Connective tissue disorders such as Marfan Syndrome.

Problems that require repair or replacement of mitral valve are:

Mitral valve prolapse- In this condition, the mitral valve bulges into the left atrium leading to a leaky valve because of partial closure of the valve.
Mitral valve regurgitation- Regurgitation is the backflow of the flood or leaking of blood into the left atrium.
Stenosis of Mitral valve – It is the narrowing or stiffening of the mitral valve which prevents the flow of blood through the valve and into circulation.
Double-orifice mitral valve- A structural problem where the mitral valve has two openings, one or both of which are narrow or leaky.

What are the consequences of leaving mitral valve problems untreated?

Mitral valve problems affect the blood flow from the lungs to the heart and then to the rest of the body. When there is partial closing and opening of the mitral valve flaps, the heart pumping gets harder. This leads to the following conditions if the mitral valve problems are not timely fixed:
Atrial fibrillation- It is the most prevalent kind of abnormal heart rhythm causing irregular beating of the heart, often rapid. When a mitral valve gets damaged or diseased, the left upper chamber of the heart loses its normal, organized electrical activity so the blood flow to the heart muscles and the remaining body gets affected. This results in symptoms like shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, or fatigue.
Stroke- When a mitral valve problem causes the heart to become a less efficient pump and beat irregularly, it can lead to a stroke. Stroke happens because of either rupturing of blood vessels in the brain or clot formation in the blood vessel carrying blood to the brain from the heart. It can further lead to mild to severe disabilities, depending on which part of the brain gets affected.
Deep vein thrombosis (blood clots)- It is the condition resulting from the formation of blood clots (thrombus) in a vein deep-seated within the body. Its common symptoms include swelling, warm sensation, and pain in the limb.
Congestive heart failure- It is the condition where the body is unable to meet its oxygen and nutrient needs due to insufficient pumping of the blood by the heart muscles. When a mitral valve gets damaged or diseased the blood flows backward and causes the veins, tissues, and lungs to become congested with fluid. Over time, both the left and right sides of the heart get affected and cause death.

How long can I live with a diseased or damaged mitral valve?

Life expectancy is very short for anyone suffering from mitral valve disease. Various factors decide how long you can live with a diseased/damaged mitral valve. These include:
  • Form of mitral valve disease/problem
  • Severity of the mitral valve disease
  • The extent of heart damage caused by the mitral valve problem
  • Time at which mitral valve is repaired or replaced.

How is the diseased/damaged mitral valve fixed?

A cardiac surgeon performs either of the two surgeries:
  1. Mitral valve repair- It involves patching hole in the mitral valve, separating the joint valve flaps, reconnecting the valve flaps, getting rid of extra valve tissues, or tightening and reinforcing the annulus.
  2. Mitral valve replacement- This involves the removal of the damaged/diseased mitral valve. Then it gets replaced with a biological tissue valve or mechanical valve. Sometimes, the new valve is inserted using a catheter.

Which is better mitral valve repair or replacement?

Mitral valve repair in India or replacement of mitral valve, both are surgical procedures performed to treat varieties of mitral valve disease. Mostly, cardiologists or cardiac surgeons choose mitral valve repair surgery instead of mitral valve replacement surgery, whenever possible. This way, they can avoid potential risks and complications associated with mitral valve replacement and keep the patient’s valve. However, in some cases, mitral valve replacement becomes a necessity. The best  cardiac surgeon for Open Heart Surgery in Delhi, Dr. Sujay Shad can tell you in detail about both the procedure’s benefits and risks at the time of your consultation. Visit him at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital for more details!