Mitral Valve Replacement (Cardiology)

Body Area: Head / Neck
Body Parts: Eyes
Symptoms: Red Spots Inside Lower Eyelid
The mitral valve lies between the left atrium and the left ventricle of the heart, and keeps blood moving forward for the atrium to the ventricle. When this valve gets damaged (e.g. from rheumatic fever, infection, or a heart attack) and does not function normally because it is either too tight or too loose (or both), blood cannot move normally through the chambers so that there is stress and damage to the heart muscle. Sometimes, a damaged mitral valve can be repaired through cardiac catheterization. However, when the damage to the valve is severe enough, the valve must be replaced through open-heart surgery. The replacement valve is usually made of metal and plastic, though sometimes natural tissue from a pig or cow can be used to make a replacement valve. The surgery is major, but most patients do quite well with the procedure. Valve replacement is generally not done until it is really necessary since the prosthetic (artificial) valves are not as sturdy as our natural valves, and will wear out over time and need to be replaced again.