Mitral valve stenosis is a heart condition in which the mitral
valve—which regulates blood flow on the left side of the heart—fails to open as
wide as it should. Although it has no immediate effect on health, eventually
mitral valve stenosis can cause the left atrium to work harder to pump blood
through the narrowed valve, leading to heart failure and complications such as
stroke, heart rhythm problems (such as atrial fibrillation), fluid buildup in
the lungs, and blood clots.
Symptoms usually do not develop for 10
to 20 years and may take as long as 40 years to be noticed. Early symptoms, such as
shortness of breath with exertion, are often mild and hard to distinguish from
other forms of heart disease. In the later stages of mitral valve stenosis,
blood may back up into the lungs, causing symptoms such as shortness of breath,
fatigue, weakness, and pounding of the heart.
Treatment for mitral
valve stenosis depends on whether symptoms are present and how much the mitral valve has narrowed. Close monitoring is usually all that's needed
for those who have mild or no symptoms. But if symptoms and severe narrowing are
present, a doctor may recommend surgery to
repair or replace the valve.