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How is mitral valve regurgitation diagnosed?

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Quick Answer

Doctors diagnose mitral valve regurgitation with a combination of listening to the chest with a stethoscope, physical examination and medical imaging of the heart, MedlinePlus explains. Listening to the heart and lungs of a person with mitral valve regurgitation often reveals extra heart sounds, crackling sounds in the lungs, heart murmurs and a vibration in the chest. Physical signs include an enlarged liver, lower leg swelling and bulging neck veins. Medical imaging can include an echocardiogram, CT scan or MRI.

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Mitral valve regurgitation often causes no symptoms, states MedlinePlus. When symptoms are present, they usually emerge gradually and can include fatigue, light-headedness, palpitations, excessive nighttime urination and shortness of breath. Symptoms can emerge suddenly if the cords that attach the valve to the heart muscle break, a heart attack damages the muscle tissue around the valve or an infection destroys part of the valve. Diagnosis of mitral valve regurgitation is more likely after rheumatic heart disease, coronary heart disease with high blood pressure, or mitral valve prolapse.

The mitral valve is the valve that separates the two chambers in the left side of the heart, MedlinePlus says. The most common type of valve disorder is mitral valve regurgitation. Mitral valve regurgitation is when blood flows backward from the left ventricle to the left atrium when the ventricle pumps. This reduces the amount of blood flowing to the rest of the body.

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