Mitral valve stenosis often has no symptoms in its early stages. It may not be diagnosed until you've had the disease for some time. One or more complications may lead to its diagnosis.
The first sign of mitral valve stenosis could be a heart murmur that your doctor hears during a routine checkup.
A review of your medical history and a physical exam can help your doctor find out if you have mitral valve stenosis. Your doctor also can use them to plan your treatment.
Your doctor will ask about your lifestyle, activity level, and family health history. Your doctor will want to know about your symptoms. He or she will ask if you have ever had:
- Rheumatic fever. This is an infection caused by an untreated strep throat infection.
- Endocarditis. It's an infection of the lining of the heart's valves and chambers.
- A congenital heart defect. A heart problem may have been present since birth.
- Atrial fibrillation. This is an ongoing irregular heartbeat.
- Symptoms of heart failure. They include shortness of breath and swelling in the feet and ankles.
During the physical exam, the doctor will:
- Listen for a certain heart murmur and other sounds that indicate a heart valve is not working right.
- Take your blood pressure.
- Check your pulse.
- Look for swelling that can be a sign of too much fluid in your body.
An echocardiogram is used to find out if you have mitral valve stenosis and to see how bad it is. Your doctor can check your heart valve and take pictures of your heart.
In transesophageal echocardiography, a device is inserted down your throat and into your esophagus to make pictures of your heart. This may be done if your doctor wants to see a different view of your heart.
You will likely have regular echocardiograms so your doctor can keep track of any changes in your condition. Your doctor may recommend an echocardiogram every 6 to 12 months if you have severe stenosis or every 3 to 5 years if you have mild to moderate stenosis.1
Electrocardiogram is used to measure the electrical activity in the heart. Small pads or patches called electrodes are attached to your chest, arms, and legs. The electrodes are connected to a machine that translates the electrical activity into line tracings on paper. Your doctor looks at the tracings to check for problems.
A chest X-ray may show evidence of mitral valve stenosis. The test may show enlargement of the upper left heart chamber (left atrium) or the pulmonary arteries. Calcium deposits on the heart valves sometimes may be seen, especially if the buildup is severe.
Cardiac catheterization is usually done before any surgery for mitral valve stenosis to evaluate your heart, the degree of stenosis, and the health of your coronary arteries. Knowing the condition of the coronary arteries may affect later treatment decisions for stenosis.