How do we use imaging to aid considerations for intervention in patients with severe mitral regurgitation?
Increasing life expectancy and comorbid conditions, like obesity, especially in industrialized countries, have led to Valvular Heart Disease (VHD) becoming a major epidemic. Mitral valve disease currently accounts for nearly 10% of Valvular Heart Disease in industrialized countries worldwide. It is a known fact that, left untreated, degenerative mitral valve disease not only shortens an individual’s life, but is also associated with increased morbidity. Despite current guidelines, there is often marked delay in appropriately sending patients for consideration of surgical intervention—interventions that when performed well can dramatically restore patients to a more normal lifespan. The critical question is really not what the severity of the mitral regurgitation is, but what the effect of the mitral regurgitation is on the heart. Modern day echocardiography utilizing Transthoracic Echo, Stress Echo, and Transesophageal Echo, can provide the clinician and the surgeon with six key factors that when taken together provide clear direction as to the proper timing for consideration for mitral valve repair. Thinking of these in an integrative fashion, the clinician and the surgeon can more appropriately time proper surgical intervention in primary degenerative mitral regurgitation.