Heart Valve Problems: Mitral Valve Stenosis

Mitral stenosis means the mitral valve stiffens and doesn’t open all the way. Blood must move through a smaller opening. In severe cases, fluid can build up in the lungs, leading to coughing and breathing problems. Problems with the mitral valve can also cause a fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations). Over time mitral stenosis may slowly get worse.

Possible causes

Most cases of mitral stenosis are caused by rheumatic fever. This illness can lead to an inflammation that damages the heart valves. Although pregnancy doesn’t cause mitral stenosis, a woman may first develop symptoms of mitral stenosis during pregnancy. This is because the amount of blood her heart has to move has increased.

Top view of open mitral valve with stenosis.

Cross section of heart showing mitral valve stenosis.

Open mitral valve with stenosis (viewed from above).


Treating mitral valve stenosis

If you don't have symptoms, you usually will not need treatment. If symptoms occur, your doctor may prescribe medicines to help ease them. If the stenosis is severe, surgery can be done to repair or replace the valve.