A crucial step in the diagnostic process is determining how serious your case of mitral valve regurgitation (MR) is. Treatment can depend on how severe regurgitation is.
You will likely get an echocardiogram to check your mitral valve and to find out how well your heart is pumping blood. 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 check many things. These include:
- Whether you have symptoms.
- If there are problems with the anatomy of your mitral valve.
- How much blood is leaking backward through the valve.
- 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.
- The 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.
- The size of the left atrium.