Mitral stenosis is a heart valve disorder that involves the
mitral valve. This valve separates the upper and lower chambers
on the left side of the heart. Stenosis refers to a condition in
which the valve does not open fully, restricting blood flow.
As the valve area becomes smaller, less blood flows to the body.
The upper heart chamber can swell as pressure builds up. Blood
may flow back into the lungs. Fluid can collect in the lung
tissue, making it hard to breathe. This condition is called
In adults, mitral stenosis occurs most often in those who have
had rheumatic fever, a condition that may develop after strep
throat or scarlet fever. The valve problems develop five to 10
years after the infection. Rheumatic fever is becoming rare in
the United States, so mitral stenosis is also less common. Only
rarely do other factors cause mitral stenosis in adults. These
include calcium deposits forming around the mitral valve,
radiation treatment to the chest, and some medications.
Children may be born with mitral stenosis.
Adults may have no symptoms. Symptoms may appear or get worse
with exercise and may include:
- Chest discomfort
- Increases with activity, decreases with rest
- Radiates to the arm, neck, jaw or other areas
- Includes tight, crushing pressure, squeezing or
- Cough, possibly bloody
- Difficulty breathing during or after exercise or when lying
- Fatigue, tiring easily
- Frequent respiratory infections such as bronchitis
- Sensation of feeling the heartbeat (palpitations)
- Swelling of feet or ankles
In infants and children, symptoms may be present from birth and
almost always develop within the first two years of life.
Symptoms may include bluish discoloration of the skin or mucous
membranes (cyanosis), poor growth or shortness of breath.
Treatment depends on the symptoms and condition of the heart and
lungs. People with mild symptoms or none at all may not need
treatment. Hospitalization may be required for diagnosis and for
treatment of severe symptoms. There are a number of treatment
Medications are used to treat symptoms of heart failure or
abnormal heart rhythms. These include diuretics, nitrates and
beta-blockers. High blood pressure should also be treated.
Anticoagulants (blood thinners) are used to prevent blood clots
from forming and traveling to other parts of the body.
Some patients may need heart surgery to repair or replace a
valve. Replacement valves can be made from different materials,
some of which may last for decades and others of which can wear
out and require replacement.
Percutaneous mitral balloon valvotomy (also called valvuloplasty)
may be considered instead of surgery.
Texas Health is committed to providing quality care to heart
and vascular patients throughout North Texas and beyond. While
various technologies and services are discussed here, not all of
our hospitals offer every treatment and diagnostic technology
highlighted. Call 1-877-THR-WELL to learn more about heart and
vascular services at a Texas Health hospital near you.