mitral valve regurgitation (MR) can be difficult to
diagnose. It is a "quiet" condition and often has no symptoms, or your symptoms
may be confused with other heart-related conditions.
Chronic MR is
often diagnosed during a routine checkup or a visit to the doctor for another
heart murmur may be the first sign leading your doctor
to the diagnosis, especially if you have no other symptoms.
MR causes sudden symptoms and is much less common than chronic mitral valve
regurgitation. It is usually diagnosed while you are already hospitalized or in
the emergency room.
When your doctor suspects you have MR, he or
she will discuss your medical history, do a physical exam, and likely
order tests to check your heart. Your doctor uses the information to find out how severe your MR is. For more information, see Mitral Valve Regurgitation: Severity.
Medical history and physical exam
find out the severity of your MR, your doctor will ask you to describe the
symptoms you are experiencing, such as shortness of breath, fatigue, or chest
During the physical exam, the doctor will take your blood
pressure, check your pulse, listen to your heart and lungs, look at the veins
in your neck (jugular veins), and check your legs and feet for fluid buildup
Echocardiogram (sometimes called an echo or
echocardiography) is a type of
ultrasound exam. It helps your doctor find out how severe your MR is. Also, echocardiography can help
determine whether the heart's main pumping chamber (left ventricle) is
functioning properly, whether any structural problems exist that may affect the
mitral valve, and whether the chambers of the heart are enlarged.
electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG) is a test that measures
the electrical signals that control the rhythm of your heartbeat.
Although the EKG may reveal abnormal electrical activity
in the heart, further testing is often still needed to find out the severity
of MR and to confirm whether MR is causing enlargement of the left ventricle.
The result of an EKG is often normal in people who have mild MR.