The mitral valve is located between the left atrium (upper heart chamber that receives oxygenated blood from the lungs) and the left ventricle (the heart’s main pumping chamber). Normally, blood flows one way through the valve's two flaps (leaflets), which open and close with each heartbeat. In mitral valve regurgitation, the leaflets do not close tightly and blood leaks back into the atrium.
Causes of regurgitation are mitral valve prolapse (floppy or weakened leaflets that bulge backward with every heartbeat), damaged or elongated valve anchor cords, valve infection (endocarditis), rheumatic fever, heart attack, high blood pressure or inherited conditions.
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