A crucial step in the diagnostic process is determining how serious
your case of
mitral valve regurgitation (MR) is, because treatment
depends largely on severity. At a minimum, your doctor will use an
echocardiogram to gauge the condition of your mitral
valve. And depending on your situation, your doctor may need
more information and extra diagnostic tests.
To find out the severity of your MR, your doctor will look
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The size of the left ventricle at the end of the contraction (end
systolic dimension, or ESD). In chronic MR, the left ventricle expands in size
as it tries to accommodate the larger volumes of blood flowing into the
chamber. The larger the left ventricle, the more advanced the MR. This applies
only to the chronic form of the disease, since the left ventricle does not
expand in acute MR.
ejection fraction. This number shows the efficiency of
your heart. The ejection fraction is the amount of blood pumped out of the
ventricle (stroke volume) divided by the total amount of blood in the left
ventricle at rest. The smaller the ejection fraction, the harder your heart
must work to pump sufficient volumes of blood outward.
Also important is:
The size of the left atrium.
estimate of the pressure in the artery that takes blood to your lungs when the
heart contracts (pulmonary systolic pressure).
Whether there is evidence of reversal in the
blood flow from the lungs into the left atrium.
It is important to remember that the ejection fraction (EF) and end
systolic dimension (ESD) are not the final judges in determining the severity
of your condition. Your doctor will use these measurements, as well as the
others noted above and your symptoms, to determine the severity of your