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.
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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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.
Your mitral valve is located between the upper left chamber of your heart (the left atrium) and the lower-left chamber (left ventricle).
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.
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:
Your mitral valve can have a variety of different issues:
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:
Serious mitral valve conditions may lead to life-threatening problems, such as:
You may not be able to prevent a mitral valve problem. But you can take action to help keep your heart healthier:
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.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/02/2022.
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