Mitral Valve Stenosis - Exams and Tests
Mitral valve stenosis is a "quiet" condition-it often has no symptoms in its early
stages and may not be diagnosed until you've had the disease for some time. If
you are not having symptoms, such as shortness of breath or pounding of the
heart, the first sign of mitral valve stenosis could be a suspicious
heart murmur that your doctor hears during a routine checkup.
A review of your
medical history and a physical exam can predict whether you have mitral valve
stenosis and help determine future treatment. Your doctor will ask about your
lifestyle, activity level, and family health history. Your doctor will want to know about any symptoms you
are having and if you have ever had:
- Rheumatic fever, an infection caused by an untreated
strep throat infection.
an infection of the lining of the heart's valves and chambers.
congenital heart defect, which is a structural heart
problem or abnormality present since birth.
- Atrial fibrillation, a persistent irregular
- Symptoms of
heart failure, such as shortness of breath, swelling
in the feet and ankles, and dizziness, fainting, fatigue, or weakness.
physical exam, the doctor will take your blood
pressure, check your pulses, listen to your heart (possibly while you are lying
on your left side) and lungs, and look for signs of fluid buildup (edema).
Findings that may point to a problem with your heart or heart valves
- A distinctive heart murmur-heard best while
lying on your left side-and a specific extra heart sound, called an opening
snap. These sounds can be easily missed or attributed to other
heart or lung conditions, especially in people who are older, overweight, or
have preexisting heart conditions.
- Swelling, especially in the
legs, ankles, and feet, due to fluid buildup in the body
- Bulging neck veins caused by a backup of blood outside the
- Fine crackles heard in the lungs, which are evidence of
fluid buildup in the lungs.
- In severe cases, redness or flushing of
the cheek area (mitral facies), especially in people who have fair
echocardiogram is used to find out whether mitral
valve stenosis is present and to estimate its severity. Echocardiography uses
high-pitched sound waves to produce an image of the heart. Specifically, an
echocardiogram can show structural problems of the heart that may affect the
Transesophageal echocardiography is
often used in people when evaluating the heart through a thick chest wall is
difficult. For this procedure, a device that uses ultrasound waves to produce
an image of the heart is inserted through the mouth and down the throat into
esophagus. This test is often used-at the end of a
mitral valve surgery, before the surgeon closes the incision-to see whether the
valve is working properly.