“Is Mitral Stenosis The Same Thing As A Leaking Heart Valve?” Asks Vicki
By Adam Pick on July 10, 2012
This morning, I received a great email from Vicki which reads, “Hi Adam – Is mitral stenosis the same thing as a leaking heart valve?”
I think Vicki’s question is excellent because many patients are often confused when we attempt to understand the medical terms used during our appointments with primary care physicians, cardiologists and surgeons. Personally, I only understood 10% of the medical terms the cardiologist used to explain my severe aortic stenosis diagnosis.
Mitral Valve Stenosis
That said, the answer to Vicki’s question is… No, mitral stenosis is not the same thing as a leaking heart valve disorder.
- In mitral valve stenosis, the heart valve is narrowed. This valvular defect is problematic because the amount of blood that can fit through the valve is constrained by the smaller valve size. As a result, the heart has to “work overtime” to push blood through the mitral valve to the rest of the body.
- In a leaking heart valve, blood flows backwards across the valve. As a result of a leaky mitral valve, also known as mitral valve regurgitation, additional strain is put on the cardiac muscle as it “re-pumps” blood through the valve.
Ultimately, both mitral stenosis and mitral regurgitation can lead to serious complications including enlarged (dilated) hearts, atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure. Interestingly, some patients may be completely asymptomatic as these valve disorders progress over month, years, or decades.
For these reasons, I always encourage patients to have regular medical exams if they have been diagnosed with a heart murmur or a specific form of heart valve disease.
I hope this helps Vicki (and perhaps you) learn more about mitral stenosis and leaking mitral valves.
Keep on tickin!