Mitral Stenosis – What Is It?
Our heart is one of the most vital organs in our body. We are alive due to a well-functioning heart. It pumps blood through the whole body so that it reaches each and every cell and we can survive. Any disturbance in its working is bound to affect our health seriously. Blood flows.
In a person’s body, the blood comes from the body and passes through the right hand side of our hearts. The blood then moves towards the lungs where it gets all the oxygen and then goes back through the left hand side of our heart, eventually moving out from our systems.
Our heart has four valves due to which proper blood flow in our body is maintained. These valves open so that blood gets emptied from the heart’s chamber. After that, the valves close, making the blood move forward. If the valves do not move the blood in our body in a proper manner, we develop various heart valve diseases. These valve disorders become common in people as they age. One of the most common valve conditions is mitral stenosis or mitral valve stenosis.
What Is Mitral Stenosis?
heart organ illustration, Credit: Canva
Mitral stenosis, as mentioned before, is a valve condition. This valve condition is defined by the mitral valve becoming narrow. The main function of this valve is to regulate the blood flow into the left ventricle of the heart from the left atrium. The major pumping chamber of our heart is the left ventricle. In the absence of the mitral valve’s proper functioning there is a buildup of blood as well as pressure. Consequently, the left atrium becomes enlarged and fluid moves into the lungs.
This condition progresses slowly over a lengthy period of time. Hence people fail to notice its symptoms until it becomes severe mitral stenosis. One of its direct causes is rheumatic fever which can be linked to strep throat. A bacterial infection, strep throat causes sore throat. Due to this infection, the mitral valve gets scarred and consequently narrows. This condition is quite common in various developing countries of the world.
Mitral Stenosis Pathophysiology
Person with his heart on the chest, Credit: Canva
A heart disease that is rheumatic is characterized by an autoimmune attack on the heart’s mitral valve. Due to this, the valve leaflets get thickened. The deterioration of mitral stenosis condition over an extended time period is related to the progressive nature of this disorder.
The exact cause behind this progressive deterioration of the mitral valve is not known. Some people regard it as a result of the damage caused to this valve by high pressure. But this cause is not definite. There is still no clarity on this issue.
Slowly with time, the degradation of mitral stenosis becomes intense and the area of the mitral valve reduces. It causes the formation of a pressure gradient in the area between the left ventricle and the left atrium. This pressure gradient’s formation is linked to the assistance of diastole, that is, the time period when the heart muscle relaxes and blood fills the heart. The increased pressures of the left atrial are transferred to the heart’s right side and to the pulmonary veins.
What Are the Causes of Mitral Stenosis?
Doctor with a patient, Credit: Canva
The major causes of mitral stenosis include the following:
Rheumatic valvular disease or rheumatic fever is the most widespread cause. Around 98 percent of people who are diagnosed with mitral stenosis have rheumatic valvular disorder.
Left atrial myxomas, the slow growing or benign tumours that block this valve, thereby resulting in the stenosis.
Calcium deposits on the mitral valve ring. It is commonly detected in the elderly individuals.
Congenital heart disorders, that is, disorders that are present from birth in people. A heart defect that is congenital can lead to a defective valve. Over time, this defective valve can cause various complications.
Mitral Valve Stenosis – Symptoms
Woman feeling difficulty in breathing, Credit: Canva
The symptoms of mitral stenosis are easily overlooked by most of the people who develop this condition. It is because most of its symptoms mimic those experienced in typical conditions that are related to the heart but are not serious in nature. Hence, mitral stenosis continues to progress and it is only when the symptoms worsen and become too complicated that the person finally seeks help.
If you are facing the above-mentioned symptoms, do communicate to your doctor immediately about it.
Difficulty in breathing, especially when you are exerting yourself or lying down.
A constant feeling of exhaustion and fatigue. It increases during any physical activity.
Swollen or inflamed legs or feet
Rapid palpitations of the heart. You can sense a fluttering heart beat.
Blood in cough
Pain in the chest region
These symptoms become pronounced during any physical activity during which your heart rate rises. You may also experience a spell of rapid heart beats as part of these symptoms.
How Is Mitral Stenosis Diagnosed?
Woman feeling difficulty in breathing, Credit: Canva
People who develop this condition often experience shortness of breath due to the build up of pressure in the heart that travels to the lungs. It results in congestion or the build up of fluid. The symptoms that are described above are commonly felt by people who fall between the age group of 15 to 40. It is true for people who reside in developed countries. But this age group is not definite as there are many instances of mitral stenosis symptoms being experienced during childhood.
Your doctor can determine that you are suffering from this condition by recognising the following signs at the time he is examining you.
Heart murmur, also called Mitral stenosis murmur. You will be made to lie in a left lateral position by the doctor if you are suffering from this condition then the doctor can hear a low-pitched rumble from the apex. Its duration corresponds to the intensity of your condition.
Buildup of fluid in the lungs that directly causes shortness of breath.
Arrhythmias or irregular rhythm of the heart. This irregular or uneven rhythmic heartbeat also directly points towards this condition.
Is There Any Mitral Stenosis Treatment?
Doctors treating a patient, Credit: Canva
If you want to get treated effectively, then it is essential for you to recognise the symptoms of this condition and immediately report to your doctor. Prevention in the early stages will prevent it from progressing. With the help of antibiotics, very mild mitral stenosis that occurs due to strep throat can be treated.
If your mitral stenosis has aggravated, then the only option for your doctor is to perform a mitral valve repair surgery. By repairing the narrowed mitral valve using minimal to moderate invasive procedures, this condition can be treated. During this surgery, the surgeon will remove the narrowed valve and in its place, put a mechanical valve that is made of metal. You will also be prescribed a course of anticoagulant medication to prevent blood clots due to metal mechanical valves from forming.
Mitral stenosis is a serious condition and if you find that you or anyone near you is experiencing these symptoms, do not hesitate to approach your doctor for help.