Mitral Valve Awareness: What is Mitral Valve Disease?
Written By: Adam Pick, Patient Advocate, Author & Website Founder
Medical Expert: Pavan Atluri, MD, Director of Minimally Invasive and Robotic Cardiac Surgery at Penn Medicine
Published: April 10, 2023
There is a fundamental lack of awareness to mitral valve disease. In addition, mitral valve disease is significantly under-treated. Sadly, mitral valve disease is also deadly.
For these critical reasons, we are launching “Mitral Valve Disease Awareness Week” to raise awareness to this very debilitating and insidious type of heart disease. In this video, Dr. Pavan Atluri, a leading mitral valve surgeon at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, shares important insights about the symptoms, the causes and the risks of mitral valve disease.
Important Facts About Mitral Valve Disease
Here are important facts and learnings shared by Dr. Atluri about mitral valve disease:
- Mitral valve disease is very common. In the United States alone, approximately 7.5 million people have the disease, according to Dr. Atluri.
- LACK OF AWARENESS: Only 25% of people under the age of 70 are aware of heart valve disease.
- Symptoms of mitral valve disease include shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations and fatigue
- Patients may be asymptomatic. According to Dr. Atluri, “Mitral valve disease is very scary because it’s a very silent disease process which is affecting the heart, the lung, or other parts of the body.”
- Risks associated with mitral valve disease include premature death, atrial fibrillation, pulmonary hypertension, damage to lungs, liver and kidneys.
- The causes of mitral valve disease are known (infection, endocarditis, rheumatic heart disease), being studied (genetics), and unknown.
- Mitral valve disease is under-treated as only 15% of patients get therapy.
- Surgical and transcatheter techniques can successfully treat mitral valve disease. Dr. Atluri says, “It’s important to recognize that if you are diagnosed with mitral valve disease that this is a very treatable disease process.”
Keep Learning About Mitral Valve Disease
As part of Mitral Valve Disease Awareness Week, we’re sharing new information to educate you about the management and the treatment of mitral valve disease including:
- Surgeon Q&A: How is Mitral Valve Disease Treated?
- Top 5 Considerations for Mitral Valve Surgery Patients
- Mitral Valve Disease Awareness Week Educational Microsite
Keep on tickin!
P.S. For the deaf and hard of hearing members of our community, I have provided a written transcript of this video with Dr. Atluri below.
When it comes to mitral valve disease, there’s a huge lack of awareness and a significant under-treatment.
I’m Pavan Atluri. I’m a cardiac surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania. I’m a professor of surgery and the director for minimally invasive and robotic cardiac surgery. Mitral valve disease is a dysfunction of the mitral valve, which is the valve that separates the collecting chamber of the heart, the atria, from the pumping chamber of the heart, the ventricle. This can be categorized into two sub types, either mitral insufficiency or regurgitation, which is a leakage of the valve, or stenosis, which is a narrowing of the valve.
Mitral regurgitation is the most common heart valve disease with a worldwide incidence of 2.5%. If you look at the sheer numbers of it, it’s almost 7.5 million people in the United States alone. It is scary that only one in four patients under 70 is even aware of heart valve disease.
Symptoms of mitral valve disease encompasses a wide spectrum, a most common of which is a shortness of breath, that can be with either activity or without activity, but it can also include a constellation of nondescript symptoms as well, chest pains, palpitation, fatigue, constant feeling of low energy levels. Many patients present asymptomatic from mitral valve disease and that is very scary because it’s a very silent disease process which is affecting the heart, the lung, or other parts of the body.
Untreated mitral valve disease can result in premature death, but along with that, you can see many other effects as well, including heart failure, atrial fibrillation, pulmonary hypertension, which is an elevation in the pressure in the lungs, and even damage to parts of the heart or other parts of the body, including lungs, liver, kidneys.
Some of the causes of mitral valve diseases are known. Those can be infection, endocarditis, where bacteria actually attacks the valve. Other causes can be rheumatic heart disease, which is secondary to a strep infection. Age can certainly cause diseased heart valves, but yet there’s a big unknown as the causes of mitral regurgitation as well in younger or healthier patients. We believe that genetics plays a role, but the exact cause is not known.
Mitral valve disease is greatly under-treated. In fact, only 15% of patients are treated for their mitral valve disease.
It’s important to recognize that if you are diagnosed with mitral valve disease that this is a very treatable disease process. It’s important that you seek expert advice from people that are specialized in the care and management of mitral valve disease. Talk to a surgeon, a cardiovascular surgeon, and then come up with your best treatment options, which can normalize your survival and provide you an excellent quality of life.