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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Mitral regurgitation is also called mitral insufficiency. When your heart contracts, blood leaks backward into your left atrium. Normally, blood flows through the mitral valve from the left atrium to the left ventricle. Then the mitral valve closes. When your heart contracts, blood flows from the left ventricle out to your body.
Call 911 or have someone else call if:
- You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
- Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest that lasts longer than 5 minutes or returns
- Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
- Trouble breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat, especially with chest pain or trouble breathing
- You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
- Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
- Weakness in an arm or leg
- Confusion or difficulty speaking
- Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have chest pain when you move around. It goes away when you are still.
- You have increasing shortness of breath.
- You faint.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- The veins in your neck look swollen or are bulging.
- You have increased swelling in your legs or ankles.
- Your heart beats faster than usual.
- You feel your heart flutter often.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Medicines may be given to lower your blood pressure, decrease stress on your heart, or remove extra fluid.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can increase your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and coronary artery disease. These conditions can make your symptoms worse. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him or her to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause lung and heart damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Ask your cardiologist if it is safe for you to drink alcohol. Alcohol can make your heart muscle weak and make your symptoms worse.
- Eat heart-healthy foods and limit sodium (salt). Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Eat fewer canned and processed foods. Replace butter and margarine with heart-healthy oils such as olive oil and canola oil. Other heart-healthy foods include walnuts, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, and lean meats. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are also heart healthy. Ask how much salt you can eat each day. Too much salt can cause fluid to buildup in your body. This can increase stress on your heart.
- Exercise as directed. Exercise can help keep your heart healthy. Ask your healthcare provider what activities are safe for you to do. The amount and type of exercise that is safe may depend on how severe your condition is.
- Talk to your healthcare provider about pregnancy. If you are a woman and want to get pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider. Pregnancy makes your heart work harder. You and your baby may need to be monitored by specialists during your pregnancy.
- Ask your healthcare provider if you should take antibiotics before certain procedures. Some procedures may allow bacteria to get into your blood and travel to your heart. This can make your condition worse.
Follow up with your healthcare provider or cardiologist as directed:
You may need to return for more tests to check your heart. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.