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Mitral Valve Disease: Heart Rhythm Problems

Topic Overview

A complication of mitral valve stenosis or mitral valve regurgitation (MR) is an irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia).

This irregular heartbeat is created by a disruption in a web of nerves covering the surface of the heart. These nerves send electrical signals that cause your heart to contract and pump blood out of the heart.

This web of nerves is controlled by a collection of cells on the right atrium called the sinoatrial node. As it fires, so do the rest of the nerves, causing all of the muscle cells in your heart to contract, producing one forceful pump.

As mitral valve stenosis or MR stretches out your heart, it too can disrupt this web of nerves. Communication pathways may weaken because the sinoatrial node is no longer working correctly. Without clear signals from this node, the nerves begin to fire randomly, creating a chaotic network of electrical signals. When this happens, the heart is no longer able to pump with one motion, and instead it starts beating irregularly (arrhythmia).

Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia that stems from mitral valve stenosis and MR. If you have atrial fibrillation, you will have treatment to control or stop the irregular rhythm.

For more information, see the topic

Atrial Fibrillation.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical Reviewer John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
Last Revised November 29, 2011

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