A mitral valve that doesn’t properly close (called mitral valve prolapse) may let blood flow backward in your heart. Small amounts of blood flowing backward (called mitral valve regurgitation) may not cause much of an issue. However, when too much blood flows backward, the problem can damage your heart.
Fortunately, surgery can repair the problem. At the Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center, our heart surgeons and interventional cardiologists (heart doctors specializing in minimally invasive procedures) are experts in identifying when surgery is needed. We can successfully perform mitral valve repair for the majority of people who need surgery for mitral valve regurgitation.
What Is Mitral Valve Prolapse?
Mitral valve prolapse is a common disorder affecting approximately 3 percent of the general population. It means the mitral valve is loose.
The mitral valve is supposed to close tightly when the heart beats. Mitral valve prolapse might allow blood to leak back in (valvular regurgitation). Depending on the severity of the leakage, you may need mitral valve repair.
With regular echocardiograms (heart ultrasounds), our heart valve specialists can monitor your condition. We watch for further weakening of your mitral valve and an increase in backward blood flow. These signs tell us when and if surgery is needed.
When Do You Need Mitral Valve Repair?
When a leaky mitral valve allows too much blood to flow backward, it becomes dangerous. Your heart must work harder to pump blood. Eventually, your heart can’t keep up. This condition can lead to heart failure.
Ideally, it’s best to treat the condition before it causes irreversible damage to the heart. Our specialists recommend mitral valve repair based on the severity of your heart’s mitral valve regurgitation and your symptoms.
When our doctors see that a high amount of blood is flowing backward, they may recommend surgery before troublesome symptoms even develop. Treating mitral valve problems early can prevent further damage to your heart. Read more about heart valve disease.
Who Can Benefit From Mitral Valve Repair?
Mitral valve repair is a newer procedure that fixes your mitral valve so it can function properly. In mitral valve repair, heart valve specialists use a variety of techniques to stop blood from leaking through the mitral valve. Doctors can perform this procedure through open-heart surgery or more minimally invasive methods.
Mitral valve repair is now an option for nearly every patient who needs surgery to correct mitral valve regurgitation. Mitral valve repair has advantages over mitral valve replacement, including:
- Better heart function after surgery
- Fewer risks of future strokes or valve infections
- Increased likelihood of a longer life
- No need for blood-thinning medications
- No need for later surgery to replace a worn-out implant
Mitral Valve Repair: Why Choose Us?
Not every hospital offers mitral valve repair procedures. Repairing the heart’s valves requires surgical experience and skill. The Heart & Vascular Center’s surgeons and interventional cardiologists have extensive experience in successful mitral valve repairs. Here, you’ll find:
- Exceptionally skilled doctors: Our cardiologists, heart surgeons and interventional cardiologists have performed hundreds of mitral valve repair procedures, with excellent outcomes. Learn more about our heart valve team.
- Access to clinical trials: Our team regularly participates in clinical trials that test newly developed heart valve treatments. Our active clinical trial program allows our doctors to become highly trained in these procedures before they are widely available. For example, we participated in a mitral valve repair clinical trial that uses a clip to correct leakage. Read more about our clinical trials.
- Advanced surgical techniques: As a leading center for heart valve repair in the region, we help perfect new techniques, such as mitral clip repair. Because we begin using new procedures before others learn them, you benefit from doctors who already have substantial experience with the latest advancements.
- A wide range of available care: We are among the first to adopt new treatments once we know they are successful. What does that mean for our patients? With more procedures to choose from, it’s more likely that we can reduce or eliminate your heart valve disease symptoms and help you return to your everyday life.
To make an appointment with a Washington University heart valve specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 855.925.0631.