Sometimes something mentioned in passing can later seem alarming. During her recent echo examination, a supporter was casually told she had mild mitral regurgitation which is common in Marfan syndrome. Suddenly worried, she turned to the Trust for clarity on what this actually means.

by Joanne Jessup

Mitral regurgitation means that you have a leaky mitral valve. You have 4 valves in your heart, and the mitral valve is on the left side sitting between the top chamber (left atrium) and bottom chamber (left ventricle) which then pumps oxygenated blood around the body. It is quite common to have a slight degree of mitral regurgitation and this is a common sign that is looked for in Marfan syndrome as the abnormal connective tissue means that a leak on the mitral valve can be even more common. 

The important thing to understand is whether this is causing you any problems and at the moment it sounds like it isn't as the doctors have stated that it is not significant. It is good that they are keeping an eye on it as you will continue to have echo scans and they will be able to check whether the degree of leakage gets any worse over time, this doesn't always happen. 

In simple terms, the valve is not closing completely so when the left ventricle pumps to send blood all around the body, a small volume of blood flows back into the top chamber through the leaky mitral valve. If this is only very slight, then it won't cause issues. If the mitral regurgitation gets worse and lots of blood is going back into the top chamber, then you can see that it makes the heart pump less efficient and can cause issues. However, this is not the case for you at the moment and you have a mild leak which is common and simply needs monitoring. 

I hope this information is reassuring, please do get in touch again if you have any other questions. 

The Marfan Trust is registered in England and Wales under charity number 328070 at c/o 24 Oakfield Lane, Keston, Kent, BR2 6BY. Contact us at [email protected] or by phone on + 44 (0)333 011 5256
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