When should you suspect you might have mitral valve disease? Elizabeth Tracey 



One of the valves in your heart known as the mitral valve is most likely to leak, and James Gammie, a cardiovascular surgeon at Johns Hopkins, says as people age the condition develops more often.

Gammie: The cardinal symptom of mitral valve disease is shortness of breath. That is the most common phenomenon and typically say for example a patient has a leaky mitral valve, what that means is that every time the heart squeezes about 50% of the blood in the heart gets ejected backwards instead of going forward and when it goes backwards it gets ejected into the low pressure blood vessels in the lungs what's called the left atrium and that gives us a subjective feeling of shortness of breath. So that's a very common presentation.  :29

Other symptoms might include fatigue, lightheadedness and atrial fibrillation, where the heart seems to be fluttering rather than beating as it usually does. All of these symptoms should be followed up, Gammie notes, as effective treatments for the condition have been developed. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.