About the disease
Mitral valve stenosis is a heart disease, when mitral valve narrows and blood flow is blocked. It is in most cases caused by rheumatic fever, which in an acute autoimmune inflammation. In rare cases this disease can appear during prenatal development in the form of heart defect. Sometimes excessive calcium deposits can clog around mitral valve and cause stenosis. In most cases this disease develops gradually and can be latent for 10 or even more years, but once progression of stenosis accelerates, it can result in heart failure. According to American site MedScape 10-year survival rate in patients who did not undergo surgery is on average 50-60%. Life expectancy of patients with mitral valve stenosis directly depends on severity of its symptoms. In asymptomatic patients survival rate reaches 80% and in severely symptomatic - 0-15%, that`s why it is so important to have surgery if you have following symptoms.
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Problems with speech
Even though mitral valve stenosis can start developing in very early age, its symptoms usually manifest themselves between 30-50 years of age. There can be periods when they subside and worsen again. Symptoms can worsen during strenuous physical activity or pregnancy.
- Echocardiogram produces sound waves, which create images of heart's valves in motion. They help doctors detect abnormalities in blood flow and estimate the size of valve.
- Electrocardiogram gives information about electrical impulses of the heart. It can diagnose palpitations and rapid heartbeat and determine its cause.
- Cardiac catheterization also gives heart picture and it is used if echocardiography did not give image precise enough to understand the stage of mitral valve stenosis and rate of its progression.
- In some cases doctors perform stress and exercise test to see how patient's heart responds to different stressful situations and physical exertions.
- Mitral valve replacement is an open heart surgery when doctor replaces damaged heart valve with an artificial one. Artificial valve can be either mechanical or bioprosthetic and you may be prescribed anticoagulants to prevent blood clots. Recovery after surgery usually takes several days in intensive care unit.
- Balloon valvuloplasty is a surgery during which doctor widen narrow valve with special tube, equipped with balloon at the end of it. When this tube reaches heart, balloon is inflated to open the valve.
- Commissurotomy is a procedure when doctor makes incision on edge of commissure to repair constriction, which develops if person has mitral valve stenosis. Heart commissure is a place where valves are joined.
Modern medicine makes these procedures safe and in most cases you will be able to go home the next day or several days after surgery. Nevertheless, you will have to follow certain preventive measures, such as healthy lifestyle, restriction of alcohol and smoking.