Mitral regurgitation – chronic

Alternative Names

Chronic mitral valve regurgitation; Mitral valve insufficiency

Definition of Mitral regurgitation – chronic

Chronic mitral regurgitation is a long-term disorder in which the heart’s mitral valve does not close properly, causing blood to flow backward (leak) into the upper heart chamber when the left lower heart chamber contracts. The condition is progressive, which means it gradually gets worse.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Mitral regurgitation is the most common type of heart valve insufficiency. After age 55, some degree of mitral regurgitation is found in almost 20% of men and women who have an .


There are often no symptoms. When symptoms occur, they often develop gradually, and may include:

Signs and tests

The doctor may detect a thrill (vibration) over the heart when feeling the chest area. An extra heart sound (S4 gallop) and a distinctive heart murmur may be heard when listening to the chest with a stethoscope. However, some patients may not have this murmur. If fluid backs up into the lungs, there may be crackles heard in the lungs.


The choice of treatment depends on the symptoms present and the condition and function of the heart.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome varies based on the underlying conditions. Usually the condition is benign, so no therapy or restriction is necessary. Symptoms can usually be controlled with medication. In severe cases, valve repair or may be needed.


Issam Mikati, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 5/6/2010

Heart, section through the middle
Heart, front view

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