Mitral Valve Stenosis | Heart and Vascular

Heart and Vascular Care

Mitral Valve Stenosis

With the care of our experts in structural heart disease, you can get treatment for mitral stenosis and prevent complications like heart failure.

Medically reviewed by Bob Kiaii, M.D. on July 21, 2023.

Female provider preparing a male patient for an echocardiogram

Understanding Mitral Valve Stenosis

Your mitral valve allows blood to flow between your heart’s left atrium (one of its upper chambers) and your left ventricle (one of its two lower chambers). With mitral valve stenosis, the valve is more narrow than normal and cannot open all the way.

As a result, you have less volume of oxygen-rich blood that flows through your heart back into other parts of your body. The buildup of blood in your left atrium can cause it to enlarge and cause fluid buildup in your lungs.

Our world-renowned specialists in structural heart disease can help identify if you have mitral stenosis. We detect and treat the disease early with heart valve repair and replacement to potentially prevent heart failure. 


Symptoms of Mitral Valve Stenosis

In many cases, symptoms of mitral valve stenosis do not appear until your blood flow has reduced significantly.

Common Symptoms in Adults

If you develop mitral valve stenosis as an adult, your symptoms may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Rapid heartbeat

Causes of Mitral Stenosis

Your mitral valve may be narrow due to a condition you were born with. It can also develop with age due to a buildup of calcium or plaque. Other causes of mitral valve stenosis include:

Rheumatic Heart Disease 

Rheumatic heart disease can cause scarring and narrowing in your mitral valve. 


Your mitral valve normally has two leaflets, or cusps, that open and close to allow your blood to flow normally. An infection of your heart’s inner lining, called endocarditis, can damage these leaflets.


Risk Factors for Mitral Stenosis

You may have greater risk for mitral valve stenosis if you have one or more of the following risk factors:


If you are older than 60, you face a greater risk of mitral valve stenosis.

Family History

If your family has a history of valvular disease or early coronary artery disease, you may have a greater risk of mitral valve stenosis.

Intravenous Drug Use

Abusing intravenous drugs, such as methamphetamines, cocaine or heroin, can lead to endocarditis and a greater risk of heart valve disease.

Implanted Medical Heart Devices 

Heart devices, such as a defibrillator or pacemaker, come with a risk of rubbing against your heart valve. If this friction happens, you may develop scar tissue in the area, which can lead to stenosis.

Other Medical Conditions

Conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes or autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, can increase your risk for mitral stenosis.

Radiation Treatment

Radiation treatment, often used as part of cancer therapy, can thicken and narrow your heart valves, including your mitral valve.

Biological Sex

Women are more likely than men to have mitral valve stenosis.


Diagnosis and Testing for Mitral Valve Stenosis

Your UC Davis Health physician will do a thorough physical evaluation. They will ask about your medical history and symptoms.

When listening to your heart, your physician may hear a murmur (an abnormal heart sound).

Your physician can confirm mitral valve stenosis using an echocardiogram. This test uses ultrasound (high-frequency sound waves) to create an image of your heart.

Treatments for Mitral Valve Stenosis

Your physician will discuss treatment options with you.


Your physician may prescribe medication(s) to treat your mitral valve stenosis. These include drugs to:

  • Reduce the fluid buildup in your lungs, such as diuretics
  • Reduce heart inflammation or prevent rheumatic fever with antibiotics
  • Thin your blood to prevent blood clots (anti-coagulants)

Mitral Valve Commissurotomy

A commissurotomy is a procedure that separates your mitral valve leaflets if they fused together from scarring due to rheumatic fever. It can be performed using a balloon or with surgery.

Mitral Valve Replacement Surgery

Your physician may recommend surgery to replace your damaged mitral valve using either a mechanical or tissue valve.

The mitral valve surgery for repair or replacement can be performed using minimally invasive approaches. This operation avoids cutting the sternum, but instead uses key-hole incisions between the ribs with camera and robotic-assistance.

  • Mechanical valve: This is a long-lasting artificial valve made of durable materials such as carbon.
  • Tissue valve: This is a new valve made from human donor tissue or animal tissue.

Transcatheter Mitral Valve Replacement (TMVR)

TMVR uses a catheter to insert a new mitral valve in your heart. It is an alternative to open heart surgery.

The UC Davis Health heart team was the first on the West Coast to perform TMVR by accessing the valve through the femoral (leg) vein. This leading-edge approach is one of the least invasive methods for mitral valve replacement.

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