Mitral Stenosis

What is Mitral Stenosis?

Heart has 4 chambers. The two smaller chambers on top are called atria, and the two larger chambers at the bottom are called ventricles. There is a door present between the left atrium and the left ventricle of the heart, which is called mitral valve. The smaller chamber (atrium) pumps blood to the larger chamber (ventricle) whilst the heart is relaxing. This results in the accumulation of blood in the ventricle, which then pumps the blood out of the heart to the body. The door i.e. mitral valve, normally opens during this flow of blood from atria to ventricle during the relaxed phase of the heart. Mitral stenosis occurs when this door does not completely open, thus causing the blood to build up in the smaller chamber (atria) and in the lungs.

What kind of symptoms can occur with mitral stenosis?

Patients with mitral valve stenosis may have:

1- Difficulty breathing

2- Cough

3- Coughing up blood in sputum

4- Fluid collection in body, commonly presenting as swelling of legs

5- Feeling weak and tired

What complications can occur?

1- Blood clot in heart: This occurs because of accumulation of stagnant blood in the small chamber (atria) of the heart. This clot of blood can break off and block any vessel outside the heart e.g. in the brain (causing stroke).

2- Atrial fibrillation: This is a problem in the electrical activity of the heart. The heart, instead of pumping in an organized manner, pumps in a very disorganized fashion, and this can also result in the development of blood clots in the heart.

What causes mitral stenosis?

Most common cause of mitral stenosis is rheumatic heart disease . It is a disease that can occur as a consequence of an inadequately treated strep throat infection.

How to treat it?

Patients who have mild or no symptoms can just be monitored by their physicians.

Patients who have severe symptoms need treatment that includes:

1. Medications: These are used to improve the symptoms of the patient, but it is not a permanent fix. Some patients who develop rhythm problems of the heart need to be started on medications to keep the blood thin, and thus prevent any blood clots from forming.

2. Surgery: Sometimes valves can be opened by inflating a balloon like device in them. In severe situations, valve may need to be replaced by either a valve from an animal or a valve made from metal.