Treating Mitral Regurgitation Before it Progresses

The mitral valve is a heart valve that lies between the left atrium and left ventricle. The valve opens and closes to ensure that blood flows in only one direction. In mitral regurgitation, the valve does not close completely and blood leaks backward (regurgitates) inside your heart. The more open the valve remains, the more blood regurgitates and the more severe the problem.

Symptoms of Mitral Regurgitation

Mitral regurgitation (MR) places an extra burden on the heart and lungs, and your heart may have to work harder to function normally. In some cases, you may have MR but not experience any symptoms. In other cases, you may experience symptoms such as:

Fatigue or inability to exercise

Sensation of feeling the heart beat (palpitations) or a rapid heartbeat

Dry, hacking cough 
(often worse when lying down)



Swollen feet or ankles

  • Betty Vaughn
    Patient with mitral regurgitation

    “I had no symptoms until I was about 87. When I was going up and down the stairs, I couldn’t breathe. Then I got light-headed, and I got terribly, terribly tired. It was not living, it was existing.”

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor to receive a thorough examination and proper diagnosis. You should also promptly seek treatment if you notice that your symptoms are getting worse — for example, if the swelling in your feet and ankles has increased or if you find it more difficult to perform daily activities such as walking up the stairs.

What Can Happen if Mitral Regurgitation Is Not Treated?

Mitral regurgitation places an extra burden on your heart and lungs. Over time, some people may develop an enlarged heart because it has to work harder to pump blood through the body. If it is not treated, mitral regurgitation can cause other, more serious problems to your heart, such as heart failure, a condition that occurs when your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the needs of your body.

Mitral Regurgitation Treatment

Treatment for mitral regurgitation depends on how severe your condition is, and if it’s getting worse. The goal of treatment is to improve your heart’s function while minimizing your symptoms and avoiding future complications.

  • Medications: Your doctor may prescribe medications to help manage your mitral regurgitation symptoms, such as water pills (diuretics) to remove excess fluid in the lungs or legs. However, these medications only treat the symptoms and do not address the underlying problem with your mitral valve that is causing your disease
  • Surgery: Your mitral valve may need to be repaired or replaced, which is usually performed through open-heart surgery
  • Transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVr): If your doctor determines that open-heart mitral valve surgery is not an option for you—due to your age, advanced heart failure, or other serious medical conditions—you may be eligible for a less-invasive treatment option called transcatheter mitral valve repair
Mitral Regurgitation Treatment

If your doctor has determined that you are too sick for open-heart surgery, you may be eligible for a less-invasive treatment option called transcatheter mitral valve repair (TMVr).


The information provided is not intended for medical diagnosis or treatment as a substitute for professional advice.  Consult with a physician or qualified healthcare provider for appropriate medical advices.

AP2947188-WBU Rev. A

  1. MedLine Plus Medical Encyclopedia. Mitral valve regurgitation. Accessed July 25, 2018.
  2. Mayo Clinic. Mitral valve regurgitation. Accessed July 25, 2018.

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