Basic Facts:

  • The mitral valve is located between the left heart chambers (left atrium and left ventricle).
  • Several types of mitral valve diseases exist. In mitral valve regurgitation, the flaps (leaflets) of the mitral valve don't close tightly, causing blood to leak backward into the left atrium. This commonly occurs due to valve leaflets bulging back- a condition called mitral valve prolapse.
  • In another condition, called mitral valve stenosis, the leaflets become thick or stiff, and they may fuse together. This results in a narrowed valve opening and reduced blood flow through the valve.
  • Treatment for mitral valve disease depends on the type and severity of your condition. These include open surgical procedures or minimally invasive surgical procedures to repair or replace the valve.

Recently, newer techniques such as the MitraClip have been developed to allow for catheter based treatment of a leaky valve without the need for open heart surgery. A catheter inserted in the leg is used to place clips on the mitral valve to bring the leaflets closer together in order to reduce the amount of leakage. Once the clips are in place, they will become a permanent part of your heart, allowing your mitral valve to close more tightly and reduce the backward flow of blood. 

Pre-Procedure guidelines


Before surgery to have your mitral valve repaired or replaced, your doctor and care team at Virginia Heart will explain to you what to expect before, during and after the procedure and potential risks of the procedure. You may also meet with a Cardiac Surgical team.

Your doctor and team will discuss concerns you may have about your mitral valve repair or mitral valve replacement.

Post-Procedure guidelines

Unlike traditional valve replacement surgery, catheter based procedures do not involve a large surgical incision through the breastbone. Recovery from catheter-based heart procedures is much different than from open heart surgery. 

It is common to have pain at the catheter insertion site (often in the leg) for several days following the procedure. Pain tends to gradually resolve as you recover and heal. Consult with your doctor before you take pain medication. 

In most cases, doctors encourage walking for short periods after TMVR. Gradually, you’ll add activities and intensity over a month or so. Follow all instructions for climbing stairs, lifting things, and resting. Doing too much too fast can cause problems. Ask your doctor when it’s safe to return to daily activities, driving, work, sex, and leisure activities. It may take several weeks to months before you get back to all of your regular activities, depending on your overall health and heart health.