What are the symptoms? continued...
If your heart weakens because of your mitral valve, you may start to have symptoms of heart failure. Call your doctor if you start to have symptoms or if your symptoms change. Symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath with activity, which later develops into shortness of breath at rest and at night.
- Extreme tiredness and weakness.
- A buildup of fluid in the legs and feet, called edema.
Acute mitral valve regurgitation is an emergency. Symptoms come on rapidly. Symptoms include severe shortness of breath, fast heart rate, lightheadedness, weakness, confusion, and chest pain.
How is mitral valve regurgitation diagnosed?
Because you may not have symptoms, a specific type of heart murmur may be the first sign your doctor notices. Further tests will be needed to check your heart. Tests may include:
Finding out that something is wrong with your heart is scary. You may feel depressed and worried. This is a common reaction. Sometimes it helps to talk to others who have similar problems. Ask your doctor about support groups in your area.
How is it treated?
Treatment for chronic cases includes regular tests to check how well the valve and the heart are working. You may take medicines to treat complications. You may take medicine to treat a heart problem that is causing the regurgitation.
You may need surgery to repair or replace your mitral valve. Your doctor will check many things to see if surgery is right for you. These things include the cause of the regurgitation, the anatomy of the valve, if you have symptoms, and how well your heart is pumping blood.
If you have chronic mitral valve regurgitation, your doctor may want you to make some lifestyle changes to help keep your heart healthy. He or she may advise you to:
- Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
- Follow a heart-healthy diet and limit sodium.
- Be active. Ask your doctor what level and type of exercise is safe for you. You may need to avoid intense activity.
- Stay at a healthy weight, or lose weight if you need to.
Treatment for acute mitral valve regurgitation occurs while you are in the hospital or the emergency room. You need surgery right away to repair or replace the valve.