Cause And Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Mitral Valve Disease

Mitral valve insufficiency/regurgitation

Causes of mitral valve insufficiency/regurgitation may include:

  • Rheumatic fever
  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • Mitral annulus calcification
  • An infection that affects the lining of the heart’s chambers and the heart valves (infective endocarditis)
  • Congenital causes (present at birth)
  • Weakened heart muscle caused by a heart attack
  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Infections of the heart valve
  • Weakness of the heart muscle that has dilated due to primary heart muscle disease
  • Hereditary factors in patients with floppy mitral valve under the age of 40 years

Mitral valve prolapse

Causes of mitral valve prolapse may include:

  • Deterioration of connective tissue, particularly the heart’s valves (Myxomatous degeneration)
  • Barlow syndrome
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Rheumatic heart disease
  • Hereditary factors in a portion of patients with a family history of mitral valve prolapse

Mitral valve stenosis

The most common cause of mitral stenosis is rheumatic fever (an inflammatory disease that may develop after an infection with streptococcus bacteria, such as strep throat or scarlet fever). It usually takes two or more years after the rheumatic episode for the stenotic (thickened) valve to develop. Most patients don’t have symptoms, however, for 15 to 20 years after an episode of rheumatic fever.

Diagnosing Mitral Valve Disease

Your cardiologist and/or cardiac surgeon will use imaging tests to help diagnose and classify mitral valve disease. The Center for Heart Valve Disease offers you the most advanced imaging tests, including:

Follow-up testing

Patients with mild to moderate mitral valve disease may have no symptoms for years. However, the stenosis or regurgitation/insufficiency tends to progress over time. This progression varies from patient to patient, depending on the type of valve disease and how much the valve leaflets are affected by other medical conditions.

Guidelines for the management of patients with valvular heart disease from The American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology (AHA/ACC) suggest routine repeat echocardiography to periodically assess the status of heart valves, even when you’re not experiencing symptoms. Changes over time may indicate that it’s time to reevaluate your medical management protocol or consider surgery.


Six niche centers within Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, please call 312.NM.HEART (664.3278).

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:

Referring Physicians
Open communication and cooperation with referring physicians is a critical component of achieving high-quality care and minimizing the challenges that come with treating cardiovascular conditions. For physician-to-physician consultation regarding the best patient care, please contact Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at 312.NM.HEART (664.3278).


Six niche centers within Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, please call 847.53.HEART (534.3278).

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:


Six niche centers within Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute offer patient focused, specialized care, making Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute a leading destination for both initial diagnoses and second opinions. These niche programs include physicians, nurses and a range of multidisciplinary specialists working with patients to navigate the complex health care system, ensuring continuity of care and a seamless shift from inpatient to outpatient services and ultimately home.

Contact Us
To schedule an appointment or inquire about services at Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital or Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, please call 630.232.0280

Cardiovascular Clinical Trials
For information regarding cardiovascular clinical trials:


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