Mitral Regurgitation

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Mitral regurgitation is a common condition that affects the mitral valve. This valve is responsible for regulating the flow of blood from the lungs to the heart.

The mitral valve is composed of two leaflets, which come together when the heart beats to prevent blood leaking. But when the leaflets don’t close properly, blood can leak back across. When blood leaks back across the mitral valve, it can cause issues. This condition is also called mitral valve insufficiency.

Mitral Regurgitation Treatment Options at UVA

MR rarely requires immediate treatment. If you have mild or moderate symptoms, you have time to think about your options. And at UVA Health, you have several options for how you address this.


Medications can’t fix mitral regurgitation. But they can help to alleviate some of the symptoms.

  • Diuretics to remove extra fluid from the lungs
  • Medications that lower blood pressure
  • Blood-thinners
  • Medications to control heart rhythm problems

Surgery for Mitral Valve Regurgitation

At UVA Health, we offer several different procedures to address this condition. 

Mitral Valve Repair

In the 1990s, UVA was at the forefront of developing the techniques used to repair heart valves. With a repair, we’re able to fix your own valve instead of replacing it. For patients with degenerative or ischemic disease, we’re able to repair between 90 and 95% of mitral valves.

Mitral Valve Replacement 

If possible, we’d like to repair your mitral valve. But if that’s not possible, we’ll talk to you about mitral valve replacement. We use both bioprosthetic and mechanical valves. There are pros and cons to both of these replacement options that we’ll talk through to make sure you get the valve that meets your medical needs.

Mini Valve Replacement

In our region, we’re one of the few cardiac surgical centers performing mini valve replacement surgery. This means that we’ll use minimally invasive techniques. By not cutting through the sternum, we’re able to improve recovery times. Using 3D echocardiography we can see more before the surgery and afterwards, so we can evaluate the success of our repair.


UVA Health is proud to have been involved with the research that led to the MitraClip. This minimally invasive surgical technique allows us to repair the mitral valve on high risk patients. 

By offering a wide variety of options, we’re confident that we’ll be able to meet the needs of a wide variety of patients.

What Does Mitral Regurgitation Feel Like?

If you have mild MR, you may not notice much. Some of the symptoms, like difficulty breathing during exercise, are difficult to pick up on.

But if you’re feeling short of breath in the middle of the night and cough with exertion, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.

If it’s MR, you may also notice difficulty breathing and a cough when you lay flat. Many people also notice a rapid heartbeat and feel fatigued.

    Causes of Mitral Regurgitation

    The two most common causes of MR are degenerative mitral valve disease and injury from a heart attack.

    In degenerative mitral valve disease, the mitral valve is damaged by abnormalities in the leaflet tissue or chords. The most common degenerative condition is mitral valve prolapse.

    Functional mitral regurgitation is caused due to weak heart muscle. This is usually caused by a heart attack.

    Less common causes of mitral regurgitation include:

    How is Mitral Regurgitation Diagnosed?

    During a physical exam, your doctor may notice some abnormal heart sounds. The most common sounds are a heart murmur or a click. They may also notice some symptoms of fluid on your lungs. 

    Depending on your symptoms and medical history, your doctor may then order several tests. These will help to visualize your heart and see how it’s working. 

    Tests may include: