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Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana

Mitral Valve Insufficiency / Regurgitation

The other mitral valve condition is known as Mitral valve insufficiency or mitral valve regurgitation. In this condition the mitral valve leaflets do not come together and the blood flow can go forward and backward across the valve. If we think of the valve leaflets as “French doors” the leaflets can either not meet in the middle because one “door” or leaflet” opens too much in the wrong direction, leaving an opening between the two doors, which in medical terms is known as “mitral valve prolapse”. The other main condition that causes mitral valve insufficiency is when the supporting structure of the two leaflets, (known as the mitral valve annulus) becomes stretched and the two leaflets are pulled apart and cannot meet in the middle. Again using the “French door” example, the doorframe becomes damaged and too big for the doors, so the doors cannot meet in the middle. 

Other conditions that can cause mitral insufficiency are a) a heart attack that damages the supporting muscles of the mitral valve leaflets or (b) an infection of the mitral valve, which destroys the integrity of the valve leaflet.