Problem: Mitral Valve Stenosis

Stenosis animation

What is mitral valve stenosis? (MVS)

Mitral stenosis is a narrowing of the mitral valve opening. Mitral stenosis restricts blood flow from the left atrium to the left ventricle.

Watch an animation of mitral valve stenosis.

What problems can result from untreated or advanced mitral valve stenosis?

Mitral stenosis causes blood flow through the narrowed valve opening from the left atrium to the left ventricle to be reduced. As a result, the volume of blood bringing oxygen from the lungs is reduced, which can make you feel tired and short of breath. The volume and pressure from blood remaining in the left atrium increases which then causes the left atrium to enlarge and fluid to build up in the lungs.

What causes mitral valve stenosis?

Mitral stenosis almost always results from rheumatic fever (PDF)(link opens in new window), a childhood illness that sometimes occurs after untreated strep throat or scarlet fever.

Rheumatic fever is very rare in this country due to the use of effective antibiotics to prevent infections.

Two conditions not related to valve stenosis that can mimic MVS by producing the same symptoms are:

  • Myxoma (a benign tumor in the left atrium)
  • Nearby blood clot that reduces blood flow through the mitral valve

Is mitral valve stenosis treatable?

Medications can’t fix a valve defect, but your doctor might prescribe diuretics to reduce fluid accumulation in the lungs, *blood thinners to prevent clots from forming, or anti-arrhythmic drugs if those are indicated. The mitral valve can usually be repaired or replaced using surgery, or a minimally invasive procedure

Understanding your heart valve problem: Which solution may be right for you?

Walk through a step-by-step interactive guide explaining your valve issue and treatment options with helpful videos, text summaries and links along the way.

(* Some medications are commonly called blood thinners because they can help reduce a blood clot from forming. There are three main types of blood thinners that patients commonly take: anticoagulants like warfarin or heparin, antiplatelet drugs like aspirin, and fibrinolytics like tPA (tissue plasminogen activator). Each type of medication has a specific function to prevent a blood clot from forming or causing a blocked blood vessel, heart attack, or stroke.)

Heart Valve Disease Resources

Find out more about your heart valves and how to manage heart valve disease.

Valve Stenosis: When a Heart Valve is Too Narrow
Understanding Heart Murmurs, Aortic and Mitral Valve Problems