What Is the Treatment for a Leaking Mitral Valve?

The treatment for mitral valve regurgitation, a condition in which blood flow leaks backward into the heart because the mitral valve does not close tightly enough, is surgical repair or replacement of the valve, explains Mayo Clinic. Treatment is not always necessary in minor cases.

The approach doctors usually take to treating patients with leaking mitral valves is to monitor their condition over time, notes WebMD. Doctors sometimes prescribe a class of medications called ACE inhibitors to treat mild cases, explains the American Heart Association. Mitral valve regurgitation tends to progress slowly, which can make it difficult for doctors to determine the optimal time to operate when surgery is necessary. Heart failure or disruption in heart rhythm patterns can result if severe leakage goes uncorrected, states Mayo Clinic.

There are several reasons a leaking mitral valve may occur, notes WebMD. One reason is a structural abnormality called a mitral valve prolapse, which occurs when the valve closes improperly. Another potential cause is cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart enlarges due to factors such as high blood pressure or coronary artery disease. Patients with rheumatic heart disease or endocarditis are also at risk of developing mitral valve regurgitation.

Mitral valve regurgitation does not always produce symptoms in mild cases, explains the American Heart Association. More severe cases typically produce heart palpitations.