Mitral stenosis is a narrowing of the mitral valve in the heart. The mitral valve is in the left side of the heart between the upper and lower chambers of the heart. When working properly, the valve helps to keep blood flowing in the right direction from the upper to the lower chambers.
Mitral stenosis makes it difficult for blood to move from the upper and lower chambers. This means there is less blood for the lower chamber to pump out to the body. The blood can also back up in the upper chamber and push back into the lungs.
The most common cause of mitral stenosis is rheumatic fever. This infection that may develop after strep throat or scarlet fever and can scar the heart valves. Mitral stenosis may develop 5-10 years after this infection occurs.
Less common or very rare causes include:
The main risk factor for mitral stenosis is rheumatic fever. Other risk factors may include:
Symptoms are caused by the problems with blood flow and may include:
The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may suspect mitral stenosis from:
The diagnosis will be made after observing the mitral valve itself. Images of the heart and its structures may be taken during:
The heart's abilities may also be tested with:
If your child has mild mitral stenosis, immediate treatment may not be needed. Your doctor will monitor your child's condition to look for potential problems. Other treatment options include:
Certain medication may be given to improve heart function. The medications may help control the heart's rhythm and prevent the build up of fluid in the body.
Antibiotics may be needed to treat certain infections.
Your child may need surgery to prevent heart damage. Common types of heart valve surgery include:
There are several steps your child can take to avoid some of the complications of mitral stenosis:
Follow the doctor's instructions if your child is diagnosed with mitral stenosis.
Most cases of mitral stenosis can be prevented by preventing rheumatic fever:
American Heart Association
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Canadian Cardiovascular Society
Canadian Family Physician
Mitral stenosis. DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamicmedical.com/dynamed.nsf. Updated November 16, 2013. Accessed June 20, 2013.
Seattle Children’s Hospital. Mitral valve abnormalities. Seattle Children’s Hospital website. Available at: http://www.seattlechildrens.org/medical-conditions/heart-blood-conditions/mitral-valve-abnormalities-symptoms/. Accessed June 20, 2013.
Shipton B, Wahba H. Valvular heart disease: review and update. Am Fam Physician. 20011;63:2201.
Last reviewed December 2013 by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.