When it's mild, mitral valve regurgitation may not cause problems. However, severe, mitral valve regurgitation can lead to these complications:

  • Heart failure. Heart failure results when your heart can't pump enough blood to meet your body's needs. Severe mitral valve regurgitation places an extra strain on the heart because, with blood pumping backward, there is less blood going forward with each beat. The left ventricle gets bigger and, if untreated, weakens. This can cause heart failure.

    Plus, pressure builds in your lungs, leading to fluid accumulation, which strains the right side of the heart.

  • Atrial fibrillation. The stretching and enlargement of your heart's left atrium may lead to this heart rhythm irregularity in which the upper chambers of your heart beat chaotically and rapidly. Atrial fibrillation can cause blood clots, which can break loose from your heart and travel to other parts of your body, causing serious problems, such as a stroke if a clot blocks a blood vessel in your brain.
  • Pulmonary hypertension. If you have long-term untreated or improperly treated mitral regurgitation, you can develop a type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension). A leaky mitral valve can increase pressure in the left atrium, which can eventually cause pulmonary hypertension, which can lead to heart failure on the right side of the heart.
Aug. 28, 2014

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.