The flow of blood pumped by the heart is controlled by one-way valves. These valves assure that blood moves in only one direction. Mitral regurgitation occurs when the heart's mitral valve leaks blood into the upper chamber from the lower chamber.

If the amount of blood that leaks is severe, mitral regurgitation can be serious. The sooner it is treated, the better the outcome.

Mitral Valve Regurgitation
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Mitral regurgitation may be caused by:

  • Mitral valve prolapse—Abnormal closure of the valve with protrusion of a leaflet tip backward into the left atrium, causing it to leak.
  • Infections that cause scarring of the heart valve, such as rheumatic fever or bacterial endocarditis.
  • Damage from a heart attack.
  • Several different types of congenital heart defects, which can affect mitral valve function.
  • Cardiomyopathies—Diseases that weaken the heart muscle and stretch the mitral valve.