Blood flow is a vital process that the mitral valve controls. The mitral valve is one of the four valves of the heart. The mitral valve is also one of the valves that lie between the chambers of the heart. The valve structure is also necessary for its function. If there is any abnormality in the mitral valve, it will affect blood flow. Diseases of the mitral valve must be addressed as soon as possible. If problems with the mitral valve are not addressed, they will only get worse. Treatment for the mitral valve is possible.
Function and Structure
The mitral valve contains two leaflets. These leaflets open and close to allow blood to flow from one chamber to the next. One of the valves of the heart has three leaflets; making it a tricuspid valve. The mitral valve is also called a bicuspid valve because of its two leaflets. If you walk into a double door, you notice that after the door opens, it automatically closes shut once you walk through. You will also notice that there is more room to walk through when both doors are open versus only one door being opened. These double doors are an example of how the mitral valve works. Once blood flows through the mitral valve, it too should seal shut. If the valve does not seal shut, it allows blood to flow backwards. The leaflets are important for making that seal.
A narrow valve will hinder the amount of blood that can flow through the valve. A narrow valve is like opening only one door of the double doors and trying to let a thousand people enter. All thousand of those people will eventually enter but instead of four at a time, you may only get one person in at a time making the process extremely slow. Blood flow is related to those people. When the valve is narrow or, the leaflets are unable to open completely; blood flow is limited. Blood will move from one chamber to the next, but it will be at such a slow rate that the body will suffer while simultaneously causing the heart to beat faster and harder.
Diseases of the Mitral Valve
Different things cause mitral valve disease. The first source may be a birth defect. During development in the womb, a child’s heart may not develop properly, and the mitral valve is narrow. At birth, the doctor will notice an abnormal heart beat and through an echocardiogram, the doctor will see the mitral valve. The mitral valve can also become inflamed or scarred. Picturing areas of the heart being inflamed may be hard. It may be even more difficult to figure out how the valve can be scarred. Both cases are usually a result of bacterial infections. Strep throat is one type of infection that causes inflammation of the mitral valve. Strep throat is a very common disease that is treatable; so how can strep throat lead to inflammation in parts of the heart?
Strep throat does not initially cause inflammation; it is the absence of treatment that leads to rheumatic fever. Once you develop rheumatic fever, you are susceptible to inflammation of the heart valve. Bacteria may also go into the bloodstream which is not good. When bacteria gets into the heart, it will grow on the heart valves and can scar the valves. This inflammation and scarring narrow the valve and limits blood flow. Calcium flows through the blood. As you age, you become susceptible to calcium deposits on the valve. As calcium builds up on the valve, it hinders the movement of the leaflets.
The good news is that treatment is available for mitral valve disease. In most cases, mitral valve disease is not life threatening, especially if it is diagnosed in the beginning. Untreated mitral valve disease will ultimately lead to heart failure. Treatment can be medication or surgery. Diuretics are a form of treatment that lowers blood pressure. It also prevents veins in the lungs from bursting. Other medications include calcium channel blockers. This type of medication prevents further calcium build-up. Another form of treatment includes surgery. Surgery does not have to be open-heart surgery. Now heart valve surgery is minimally invasive. Small holes are made in the chest, and surgery is done through a catheter or a robotic arm. Surgery can also be done through an incision in the leg. A catheter is placed in the leg. It travels through the cardiovascular system and replaces the old valve with a new one.
The mitral valve is an important part of the heart. Without the mitral valve, blood would not be able to flow properly. Blood will start to flow backwards. The structure of the mitral valve is important. Mitral valve disease affects the whole body. The body gets an insufficient amount of blood which results in fainting, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Treatment is possible and early diagnosis prevents heart failure. You may not have been familiar with the mitral valve previously, but hopefully, now you have a good understanding.
FIND A TOP10MD CARDIOTHORACIC SURGEON NEAR YOU
There are hundreds of Cardiothoracic Surgeons to choose from; however, not all surgeons are created equal. Cardiothoracic Surgery takes the skill of an experienced surgeon. That’s why we’ve selected your city’s best Cardiothoracic Surgeons – to make the decision process easier for you and your family.
For your peace of mind, Top10MD Cardiothoracic Surgeons’ credentials are validated yearly to verify medical licenses have no serious patient care sanctions, current Board Certifications in their given medical specialty, current DEA & DPS licenses, and malpractice insurance. A Top10MD has at least 5+ years experience or has performed 300+ procedures in their given specialty and a current Patient Satisfaction Score of 8.5 or higher.