If you have heart failure, you know how this disease may affect your quality of life. Simple daily activities like preparing meals, visiting with friends, or even moving from room to room can require major effort on your part. More than 20 million people suffer from heart failure worldwide, and the number is growing rapidly.
People with heart failure frequently develop cardiac enlargement, which often leads to problems with the mitral valve in the heart. The heart has four valves which open and close to keep blood flowing in the proper direction. The mitral valve connects the heart's upper-left chamber (atrium) to the heart's lower-left chamber (ventricle). Mitral regurgitation is leakage of blood from the left ventricle backwards into the left atrium during contraction of the left ventricle. It is caused by various mechanisms related to structural or functional abnormalities of the mitral valve, heart muscle near the valve, or both.
FMR is a condition in which the mitral valve doesn't close tightly. When the mitral valve doesn't function properly, blood flows backward, towards the lungs, causing shortness of breath and other heart failure symptoms. Since some of the blood leaks backward, the heart has to pump extra blood with each beat to push enough blood forward. This process makes the heart work harder than a healthy heart in order to pump the same amount of blood to the body. As a result, heart function continues to get worse (heart failure) and patients experience increasing symptoms of shortness of breath, fatigue, and/or difficulty concentrating.
The following link shows a mitral regurgitation animation from the American Heart Association. Once at the site, use the "Forward" button from within the animation box to progress through the animation.