Mitral Valve

Your mitral valve is one of four heart valves. It helps blood flow in the correct direction from your left atrium to the left ventricle. Sometimes your mitral valve doesn’t function properly (for example, mitral regurgitation and mitral stenosis). Valve problems can make your heart work harder to pump blood to the rest of your body.


What is the mitral valve?

Your mitral valve is one of four valves in your heart. It’s located between the upper left chamber of your heart (left atrium) and your lower left chamber (left ventricle).

Your mitral valve opens and closes to make sure blood flows in the correct direction. It’s also called the left atrioventricular valve.


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What does the mitral valve do?

Your heart pumps blood in a specific route through four chambers (two atria and two ventricles). As it pumps, valves open and close to allow blood to move from one area of your heart to another. The valves act as doors that open and close between the chambers. The sound of a heartbeat is the sound of your heart’s valves opening and then closing.

The valves help ensure that blood flows at the right time and in the correct direction. Your mitral valve is responsible for making sure that blood flows from your left atrium to your left ventricle. It also ensures that blood doesn’t flow backward between those two chambers.


Illustration of your mitral valve and its location in your heart. Your mitral valve has two flaps that open and close to control blood flow.
Your mitral valve controls blood flow from your left atrium to your left ventricle. It has two leaflets (flaps), while your other heart valves have three.

Where is the mitral valve?

Your mitral valve is located between the upper left chamber of your heart (the left atrium) and the lower-left chamber (left ventricle).


What is the mitral valve made of?

Your mitral valve is made of two thin but strong tissue flaps, called leaflets. They’re referred to as the anterior leaflet and the posterior leaflet. With every heartbeat, the leaflets open and close. The leaflets attach to the papillary muscles of your heart (located in your left ventricle) with thin, strong cords called chordae tendineae. Near the chordae tendineae, on the surface of the valve, there’s an area called the zone of coaptation. This is the portion of the leaflets that touch when the valve is in the closed position. The depth and length of these touching surfaces are important to a properly functioning valve. The leaflets are also attached to the mitral annulus. The annulus is a D-shaped junction connecting the tissue of your left atrium to the tissue of the left ventricle.

Conditions and Disorders

What problems can affect the mitral valve?

When your mitral valve doesn’t function properly, your heart has to work harder to pump enough blood to the rest of your body.

It may not function properly because of:

  • Age-related degeneration (wear and tear over time).
  • A congenital defect, a valve abnormality that’s present at birth.
  • Damage to the valve or surrounding tissue (for example, from a heart attack or untreated high blood pressure).
  • Infection and swelling in the heart muscle, such as endocarditis or rheumatic fever.
  • Disorders that cause problems with the connective tissue in your body, such as Marfan syndrome.

Your mitral valve can have a variety of different issues:

  • Mitral valve prolapse: In mitral valve prolapse, the leaflets bulge backward into your left atrium. The valve can’t close properly, which can lead to regurgitation (leaking of the valve).
  • Mitral valve regurgitation: With regurgitation, blood leaks and flows in the wrong direction.
  • Mitral valve stenosis: In stenosis, the valve becomes narrow or stiff and doesn’t open as wide as it should. This can prevent enough blood from getting through the valve and into circulation.
  • Double-orifice mitral valve: The valve may have a structural problem that produces more than one opening. At least one of the openings is usually narrow or leaky.


What are the symptoms of heart valve problems?

A mitral valve condition may not cause any symptoms at all for many years. But it can get worse over time, so symptoms may appear as you get older. They may include:

  • Chest pain.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fainting.
  • Fatigue (feeling extremely tired).
  • Feeling of fluttering or racing in the chest.
  • Heart murmur (an unusual sound when your heart beats), often the first sign of a valve problem.
  • Shortness of breath with exertion or when lying flat.

Serious mitral valve conditions may lead to life-threatening problems, such as:


How can I keep my heart valves healthy?

You may not be able to prevent a mitral valve problem. But you can take action to help keep your heart healthier:

Additional Common Questions

When should I seek medical attention?

If you have a mitral valve condition, it’s important to have regular checkups with your primary care provider or cardiologist. They’ll monitor your heart and lungs to detect any complications early and provide treatment. You should also take all your medications exactly as prescribed to prevent complications.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Your mitral valve is one of four heart valves. It ensures that blood flows from your left atrium to the left ventricle at the right time and in the right direction. If the mitral valve isn’t working properly, the heart may be working too hard. But many treatment options can ease the symptoms and prevent or delay complications.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 06/02/2022.

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