You may feel fine with mitral valve stenosis, or you may have minimal symptoms for decades. However, mild problems can suddenly worsen. See your doctor if you develop:

  • Shortness of breath, especially with exertion or when you lie down
  • Fatigue, especially during increased physical activity
  • Swollen feet or legs
  • Heart palpitations — sensations of a rapid, fluttering heartbeat
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Heavy coughing, sometimes with blood-tinged sputum
  • Chest discomfort or chest pain
  • Severe headache, trouble speaking or other symptoms of stroke

Mitral valve stenosis symptoms may appear or worsen anytime your heart rate increases, such as during exercise. An episode of rapid heartbeats may accompany these symptoms. Or they may be triggered by pregnancy or other body stress, such as an infection.

In mitral valve stenosis, pressure that builds up in the heart is then sent back to the lungs, resulting in fluid buildup (congestion) and shortness of breath.

Symptoms of mitral valve stenosis most often appear in between the ages of 30 and 50 in developed nations, but they can occur at any age — even during childhood.

Mitral valve stenosis may also produce signs that your doctor will find during your examination. These may include:

  • Heart murmur
  • Fluid buildup in the lungs
  • Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias)

When to see a doctor

Call your doctor for an immediate appointment if you develop fatigue or shortness of breath during physical activity, heart palpitations or chest pain.

If you've been diagnosed with mitral valve stenosis but haven't had symptoms, talk to your doctor about follow-up evaluations.

Aug. 22, 2014

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