Harvard Heart Letter

Managing a leaky mitral valve

The heart’s mitral valve controls blood flow between the upper and lower left side of the heart. If the valve is misshapen or misaligned, it can’t close tightly or open fully, causing blood to flow backward with each contraction. Known as mitral valve regurgitation, this condition may cause breathlessness and fatigue, or no symptoms at all. Severe mitral regurgitation can lead to complications such as atrial fibrillation or heart failure. As a result, people with severe regurgitation should usually have the valve repaired, even if they don’t have symptoms.
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