Signs and symptoms of mitral valve regurgitation depend on its severity and how quickly the condition develops. Mitral valve regurgitation signs and symptoms can include:

  • Blood flowing turbulently through your heart (heart murmur)
  • Shortness of breath, especially with exertion or when you lie down
  • Fatigue, especially during times of increased activity
  • Lightheadedness
  • Cough, especially at night or when lying down
  • Heart palpitations — sensations of a rapid, fluttering heartbeat
  • Swollen feet or ankles
  • Excessive urination

Mitral valve regurgitation is often mild and progresses slowly. You may have no symptoms for decades and be unaware that you have this condition.

Mitral valve regurgitation is often first suspected when your doctor hears a heart murmur. Sometimes, however, the problem develops quickly, and you may experience a sudden onset of severe signs and symptoms.

When to see a doctor

If you develop signs and symptoms that suggest mitral valve regurgitation or another problem with your heart, see your doctor right away. Sometimes the first signs of mitral valve regurgitation are actually those of its complications, including heart failure. Heart failure is a condition in which your heart can't pump enough blood to the rest of your body, causing shortness of breath, fluid buildup and fatigue. There are a number of causes of this, and mitral valve regurgitation is just one of them.

However, mitral valve regurgitation is usually discovered earlier, during a routine examination when your doctor listens to your heart with a stethoscope. Mitral valve regurgitation can cause an abnormal heart sound (heart murmur).

When mild, mitral valve regurgitation may not progress and may never pose a serious threat to your health. But when severe, mitral valve regurgitation may cause heart complications and may require surgery to correct.

Sep. 15, 2011