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Restoring your heart health: A guide to mitral valve regurgitation and the mitraclip procedure

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Heart health matters. Your heart is a critical muscle that pumps blood to each part of your body, giving your body the oxygen and nourishment it needs. Problems that disrupt your heart’s routine need to be addressed by a doctor as soon as possible. Symptoms like shortness of breath or a fluttering heartbeat might be caused by something called mitral valve regurgitation. 

What is mitral valve regurgitation?

Mitral valve regurgitation is a disorder that prevents the heart’s mitral valve from closing tightly. When this occurs, blood moves backward in your heart. If the disorder is severe, blood can’t move through your heart or other parts of your body.

What are the symptoms of mitral valve regurgitation?

If you suffer from mitral valve regurgitation, you might not notice any symptoms right away. The signs of this condition depend on how severe it is and how fast it develops. They can include:

  • Irregular heart sound, referred to as a heart murmur, detected through a stethoscope
  • Shortness of breath, especially when you lie down or have been extremely active
  • A rapid, fluttering heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Light-headedness
  • Swollen feet or ankles

This disorder is often mild and worsens slowly. It might not even progress. But, the problem does sometimes develop quickly. If this happens, you might experience a sudden onset of severe symptoms.

How is mitral valve regurgitation treated? What Is the mitraclip procedure?

Your mitral valve regurgitation treatment plan will depend on the seriousness of your condition, the progression of your disorder and the presence or absence of symptoms. The goal of treatment is to improve your heart’s function while lessening symptoms and avoiding future problems. At SIU Medicine, you have access to a team of highly trained, experienced doctors who provide collaborative care for mitral valve regurgitation patients based on the latest research. 

Your team of experts may prescribe medications, such as diuretics, blood thinners and high blood pressure medicines, to treat the symptoms of mitral valve regurgitation. However, medicine won’t cure this illness. Until recently, mitral valve surgery has been the only option to treat mitral valve regurgitation. Now, a less-invasive treatment alternative, the MitraClip procedure, exists. Because the procedure is less involved than traditional open-heart surgery, patients can usually return home within 1-2 days. Soon after the procedure, you should start seeing an improvement in your symptoms and quality of life.

Unlike open-heart surgery, which requires cutting the breastbone, the MitraClip method is done through a small cut in the groin. A tube is channeled up through your leg vessels to the right side of your heart. This technique gives your doctors access to your heart’s mitral valve.

While mitral valve regurgitation can be a serious heart condition, it doesn’t always require a complicated surgery. With faster recoveries and shorter hospital stays, SIU Medicine will have you on your feet in days, not weeks.

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