Mitral stenosis is a narrowing of the mitral valve in the heart. The mitral valve is in the left side of the heart between the upper and lower chambers of the heart. When working properly, the valve helps to keep blood flowing in the right direction from the upper to the lower chambers.
Mitral stenosis makes it difficult for blood to move from the upper and lower chambers. This means there is less blood for the lower chamber to pump out to the body. The blood can also back up in the upper chamber and push back into the lungs.
Mitral Valve Stenosis
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The most common cause of mitral stenosis is
. This infection may develop after strep throat or scarlet fever. It can scar the heart valves. Mitral stenosis may develop 5-10 years after this infection occurs.
Less common or rare causes include: Birth defectBlood clotsTumorsInfective endocarditisOther growths that block blood flow through the mitral valve
The main risk factor for mitral stenosis is rheumatic fever. Other risk factors may include: Being born with mitral valve problemsHaving other health problems that affect blood flow in the heart
Symptoms are caused by the problems with blood flow and may include: Difficulty breathing, especially during exercise and when lying flatWaking up short of breath in the middle of the nightTirednessSensation of rapid or irregular heartbeatCough with exertionCoughing up bloodSwelling of the legs or feetFrequent respiratory infectionsLightheadedness, faintingChest pain, like squeezing, pressure, or tightness (rare)
If your child has mild mitral stenosis, immediate treatment may not be needed. Your child's condition will be monitored to look for potential problems. Other treatment options include:
Certain medications may be given to improve heart function. The medications may help control the heart's rhythm and prevent the build up of fluid in the body.
Antibiotics may be needed to treat certain infections.
Your child may need surgery to prevent heart damage. Common types of heart valve surgery include: Mitral valvulotomy—A surgical cut is made in the stenotic mitral valve to allow the valve to open widerBalloon valvuloplasty
—A balloon is inflated in the valve to stretch out the surrounding tissue. This may provide temporary relief of symptoms, but the valve may become blocked again.
Mitral valve replacement—the valve is replaced with a mechanical or tissue valve
There are several steps your child can take to avoid some of the complications of mitral stenosis: Get regular medical care. This includes basic checkups and heart tests.Take antibiotics before any dental cleaning, dental work, or other invasive procedures if it is recommended by your doctor. Not all patients with mitral stenosis need antibiotics for these procedures.Eat a healthy diet that is low in salt. Work with the doctor or dietitian to plan a healthy diet for your child. This may help decrease the pressure in your child’s heart and improve symptoms.
Monitor blood pressure. Inform the doctor if your child seems to be developing
high blood pressure
Most cases of mitral stenosis can be prevented by preventing rheumatic fever:
infections right away to avoid rheumatic fever, which can cause scarring of the heart valve.
Always make sure your child finishes all of the antibiotics given, even if symptoms improve.
Mitral valve abnormalities. Seattle Children’s Hospital website. Available at:
http://www.seattlechildrens.org/medical-conditions/heart-blood-conditions/mitral-valve-abnormalities-symptoms/. Accessed November 3, 2014.
Shipton B, Wahba H. Valvular heart disease: review and update.
Am Fam Physician. 20011;63:2201.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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