You can have mitral valve stenosis and feel fine, or you may have only minimal signs and symptoms for decades. However, mild problems can suddenly get worse. See your doctor if you develop these mitral valve stenosis symptoms:

  • Fatigue, especially during times of increased physical activity
  • Shortness of breath, especially with exertion or when you lie down
  • Swollen feet or ankles
  • Heart palpitations — sensations of a rapid, fluttering heartbeat
  • Frequent respiratory infections, such as bronchitis
  • Heavy coughing, sometimes with blood-tinged sputum
  • Rarely, chest discomfort or chest pain

Mitral valve stenosis symptoms — which may resemble those of other heart or heart valve conditions — may appear or worsen anytime you increase your heart rate, such as during exercise. An episode of rapid heartbeats also may accompany these symptoms. Or they may also be triggered by pregnancy or other stress on your body, such as an infection.

Mitral valve stenosis symptoms usually include those of heart failure. 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 your 40s and 50s, but they can occur at any age — even during infancy. Depending on the amount of narrowing, an infant or a child with mitral valve stenosis may have no symptoms, may tire easily or may have shortness of breath with vigorous physical activity.

Mitral valve stenosis may also produce a number of signs that only your doctor will be able to find. These may include:

  • Heart murmur
  • Lung congestion
  • Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias)
  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Blood clots

When to see a doctor

Call your doctor for an immediate appointment if you develop symptoms such as 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 recommended follow-up.

Sep. 15, 2011

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