This material must not be used for commercial purposes, or in any hospital or medical facility. Failure to comply may result in legal action.
Mitral regurgitation (MR)
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.
Signs and symptoms:
You may not have symptoms, or you may have symptoms that develop gradually:
- Shortness of breath that gets worse during activity or when you lie on your back
- Chest pain or discomfort
- A fast heartbeat or feeling your heartbeat flutter
- Weakness, dizziness, or fatigue
- Cough, especially when you lie down
- Swollen feet or ankles
Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) or have someone call if:
- You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
- Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
- You may also have any of the following:
- Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat
- 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
Seek care immediately if:
- You have chest pain when you move around that goes away when you are still.
- You have increasing shortness of breath.
- You faint.
Call your doctor or cardiologist 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.
Treatment for MR
may not be needed if your condition does not cause symptoms.
- Medicines may be given to lower your blood pressure, or to decrease the fluid in your body.
- Surgery may be used to repair or replace your mitral valve if you have severe symptoms.
- 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 what a healthy weight is for you. 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 or do not drink alcohol. Ask your healthcare provider if it is okay for you to drink alcohol. Alcohol can increase your risk for high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. Your provider can tell you how many drinks are okay to have within 24 hours or within 1 week. A drink of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of liquor.
- Eat heart-healthy foods. Heart-healthy foods include salmon, tuna, walnuts, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, and oils such as olive or canola oil. A dietitian or your provider can give you more information on meal plans such as the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan. The DASH plan is low in sodium, processed sugar, unhealthy fats, and total fat. It is high in potassium, calcium, and fiber. These can be found in vegetables, fruit, and whole-grain foods.
- Limit sodium (salt) as directed. Too much sodium can affect your fluid balance. Check labels to find low-sodium or no-salt-added foods. You can also make small changes to get less salt. For example, if you add salt while you cook, do not add more salt at the table. Ask your healthcare provider or dietitian for more ways to cut down on salt.
- 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.
- Ask about vaccines you may need. Certain diseases are dangerous for a person who has MR. Vaccines help lower your risk for infections that can lead to disease. Get a flu vaccine as soon as recommended each year, usually in September or October. Your healthcare provider can tell you if you also need other vaccines, and when to get them.
- Manage health conditions that can lead to MR. Your healthcare provider or a specialist can help you manage a condition such as lupus or Marfan syndrome.
- Get treatment for strep throat. Strep throat can lead to rheumatic fever, a cause of MR.
- Talk to your healthcare provider before you take any new medicine. Some medicines can increase your risk for MR.
Follow up with your doctor or cardiologist as directed:
You may need to return for more tests to check your heart every 6 to 12 months. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health
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.
Learn more about Mitral Regurgitation (Ambulatory Care)
IBM Watson Micromedex
Mayo Clinic Reference
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.