How to Treat Mitral Stenosis

Some heart conditions are more serious than others.

Heart conditions fall into two categories – those that are genetic, and those that are caused by lifestyle.

Correctly diagnosing signs and symptoms of a possible heart condition combined with getting to the bottom of the cause is inherent to receiving proper treatment.

While not all heart conditions are the same, each has their place in the medical field when it comes to diagnosis and prognosis.

If you believe you’re experiencing symptoms related to a heart condition, talk to your healthcare professional today.

Let’s take a look at one heart condition in particular and how to treat it correctly.

WHAT IS MITRAL STENOSIS?

According to Wikipedia, mitral stenosis is a valvular heart disease. Healthcare professionals characterize this disease by the narrowing of the mitral heart that carries blood and nutrients to the heart.

In a healthy functioning body, the area of a mitral valve is between 4 to 6 centimeters squared. When a heart is functioning correctly, the mitral valve will open to allow blood to flow from the left atrium of the heart to the left ventricle.

A healthy functioning mitral valve will not impede this flow, and the pressure in the left atrium and the left ventricle will be equal.

However, when the mitral valve is compromised and reduced to an area of 2 centimeters squared, the amount of blood flowing to the left ventricle is limited. This causes a pressure gradient across the mitral valve.

This pressure gradient may increase if heart rate increases, causing the symptoms to worsen. This will also cause the amount of time it takes for the left atrium to fill with blood to increase, putting more pressure on the heart to pump blood.

The more the patient’s heart rate goes up, the harder it is for blood to flow through the mitral valve. The result will be pulmonary congestion.

CAUSES OF MITRAL STENOSIS

We’ve discussed what mitral stenosis is. Now, let’s take a look at what causes this heart condition.

While there are a number of possible causes for a heart condition like this, there is one primary cause that is responsible for the majority of cases.

This cause is rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is usually a disease that manifests in childhood. Rheumatic fever develops as a result of the body’s response to an infection caused by streptococcal bacteria.  

The heart and joints are the areas of the body most affected by rheumatic fever. While the patient’s joints can become inflamed as a result, various parts of the heart may also become inflamed as well.

When the mitral valve of the heart is affected by rheumatic fever, the condition becomes rheumatic heart disease. The physical symptoms and signs of this disease may not appear until five to ten years after experiencing rheumatic fever.

Genes have a part to play in this heart condition, with babies who are born with congenital heart defects being more prone to this heart condition.

As we mentioned, there are some other possible causes of mitral stenosis. These include blood clots, tumors, and radiation treatments.

Mitral Stenosis infographics

image from: xpertdox.com

SYMPTOMS OF MITRAL STENOSIS

Now that we’ve explained the possible causes of mitral stenosis let’s discuss the possible symptoms to look out for.

There are various ways in which patients may manifest symptoms associated with this heart condition. In some patients, it will develop gradually over time, which means they will experience minimal symptoms for decades.

These symptoms can also worsen when your heart rate increases. This can occur particularly if you’re exercising or stressed. A prolonged episode of rapid heartbeats may accompany symptoms in this situation.

Common symptoms include coughing up blood, chest pain or discomfort, fainting or dizziness, and heart palpitations. Other symptoms a patient may experience with this heart condition could be swollen legs or feet, shortness of breath and fatigue, particularly after exercise.

When a patient has this heart condition, the pressure that has built up in the heart, as a result, is consequently sent back to the lungs, causing a build-up of fluid. It’s this build-up that causes shortness of breath.

Other symptoms of mitral stenosis that your healthcare professional may pick up during diagnosis include heart murmur, a fluid build-up of the lungs and irregular heart rhythms.  

DIAGNOSIS OF MITRAL STENOSIS

We’ve looked into the common symptoms associated with mitral stenosis. So how is this heart condition diagnosed?

There are a number of different ways your doctor will diagnose a heart condition like this. Let’s take a look at what these are:

  • Chest X-Ray: a chest x-ray is an effective way of diagnosing this heart condition. It helps your doctor determine if you’ve got an enlarged heart chamber. It also enables them to check your lungs for congestion.
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG): an ECG is used to assess the electrical impulses that your heart is sending through your body. Pads attached to wires adhere to your skin, measuring these electrical impulses.
    This can provide the doctor with information about your heart rhythm. They may ask you to walk on a treadmill while you do this, to look at how your heart responds to physical exertion.
  • Cardiac Catheterization: while this isn’t the most common test when looking for mitral stenosis, it may help in some situations if the diagnosis isn’t initially apparent. This test involves threading a catheter through either your groin or blood vessel so that it reaches an artery in your heart.
    Threading dye through the catheter will make the blood vessel show up on an x-ray, giving the doctor a clear view of the condition of your heart.

HOW TO TREAT MITRAL STENOSIS

We’ve explained how to correctly diagnosis mitral stenosis. Now, let’s talk about standard practice when it comes to treatment of this heart condition.

In patients who are experiencing severe symptoms associated with this condition, surgery is often one of the first treatment options. This is to repair or replace a leaky valve.

While surgery is the best treatment for patients who are experiencing symptoms like this, there are other options available.

Exercise and narcotic pain relievers are great options when it comes to treating symptoms. Because this is a heart condition that can you can manage if it’s not too severe, simple everyday habits like increasing exercise can be useful.

Other treatment options include stress reduction and relaxation techniques. To keep the mitral valve open at 6 centimeters squared, your heart needs to be nice and relaxed. The more stressed you are, the more this valve will constrict, manifesting symptoms.

In patients who have experienced symptoms like this, doctors recommend that they avoid caffeine and other stimulants that can cause an increase in heart rate and pressure.

mitral stenosis - Doctor looking at x ray result

HOW TO PREVENT MITRAL STENOSIS

While mitral stenosis is a relatively easy heart condition to treat and manage, there are a number of ways to help prevent the onset of these symptoms, too.

Dr. T. Jared Bunch of Everyday Health explains that because this heart condition can often run in the family, it’s a good idea to get checked out by your healthcare professional.

The earlier you catch the signs of a congenital heart condition, the better you can manage it. In the meantime, let’s take a look at ways you can help to prevent this condition from manifesting.

Firstly, it’s important to have routine screening for symptoms associated with this heart condition if you think you’re a likely candidate. This can be done by your doctor, using one of the three diagnostic methods mentioned above.

Secondly, there are a number of different lifestyle choices you can make that can determine whether you experience this heart condition or not. These include maintaining a normal, healthy weight and getting enough exercise.

While being overweight can put unneeded pressure on your heart, exercise can keep your heart fit and working well. Plus, the more you exercise, the more likely you’ll be able to maintain a healthy weight.

Making sure you eat a healthy diet is also vital for helping to prevent mitral stenosis. This will help to keep your blood pressure down and reduce the amount of fat buildup in the mitral valve.

LOOKING AT HOW TO TREAT MITRAL STENOSIS

While mitral stenosis can be genetic or lifestyle-based, you shouldn’t be too concerned about the prognosis.

While surgery is a viable option when faced with this heart condition, this treatment option means permanent relief from these symptoms. If your symptoms aren’t severe enough for surgery, then a heart condition like this can be easily managed.

If you’re concerned about the possibility of developing mitral stenosis, talk to your healthcare professional today about diagnosis and what you can do to give yourself a good chance of not experiencing it.


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