Blood flows from the lungs and enters a pumping chamber of the heart called the left atrium. The blood then flows into the final pumping chamber of the heart called the left ventricle. The mitral valve is located between these two chambers. It makes sure that the blood keeps moving forward through the heart.

You may need surgery on your mitral valve if your mitral valve is hardened (calcified) which prevents blood from moving forward through the valve or your mitral valve is too loose which results in blood flowing backwards.

Mitrial valve surgeryWhat is mitral valve disease?

There are two types of mitral valve disease — mitral regurgitation and mitral stenosis. Mitral regurgitation means the mitral valve leaflets do not come together to create a seal to stop blood from going back from the heart toward the lungs.

Mitral stenosis means the mitral valve leaflets are scarred and do not open very well, causing blood to back up into the lungs. Both can cause you to be short of breath, have fatigue that gets worse and have swelling in your abdomen, legs, and feet. Many times, surgery is needed to correct the problem.

What are the symptoms of mitral valve disease?

Many patients with mitral valve disease are have no symptoms, however most common symptoms of usually include:

  • Abnormal heart sound
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat


The diagnosis of mitral valve disease is made after your doctor reviews your symptoms, performs a physical exam, and listens for a murmur, and evaluates the results of your diagnostic tests.

The diagnosis of mitral valve disease is confirmed by a specialized heart ultrasound called an echocardiogram (ECG). The echocardiogram allows the doctor to visualize the heart valves and determine the severity and possible cause of the valve disease.

Mitral Valve Repair

The decision of whether you have a repair or replacement will depend on how damaged the valve is and the cause of the problem. Your Auckland heart surgeon will recommend which procedure will be best for you.

Mitral Valve Replacement

If you have a heart valve replacement, there are two common types of replacement valves used: mechanical valves and tissue valves (biological valves).

Biological tissue valves often eventually need to be replaced, as they degenerate over time. If you have a mechanical valve, you will need to take blood-thinning medications for the rest of your life to prevent blood clots. Your Auckland Cardiothoracic surgeon will discuss with you the risks and benefits of each type of valve and which valve may be appropriate for you.