Early Winter 2009
ASK THE EXPERTS: Mitral Valve Repair
ASK THE EXPERTS: Mitral Valve Repair


Umer Darr, MD
Q: My doctor says I need surgery to repair the mitral valve in my heart. Heart surgery scares me. Should I worry?

Cardiothoracic surgeon Umer Darr, MD, responds:

A: The mitral valve controls the flow of blood between the two chambers on the left side of the heart. It also closes to keep blood from leaking into the lungs.

If a mitral valve is leaky, blood can flow backwards into your lungs. Your heart will compensate over the short term, but in the long run your heart will weaken and not pump blood effectively throughout your body. As a result, you can develop high blood pressure in your lungs, shortness of breath and fatigue (extreme tiredness) and eventually congestive heart failure, which can be life-threatening.

There are a few ways to fix a faulty mitral valve, depending on the level of damage. The preferred method is a mitral valve repair (as opposed to replacement), as your doctor has recommended for you. This is performed by a cardiothoracic surgeon (a surgeon who specializes in surgeries of the heart and chest region), who closes the leaky valve using tiny surgical sutures (stitches). The benefits of mitral valve repair over other surgical procedures include longer-lasting results, fewer surgical complications and a lower risk of stroke and infection.

In addition, you may not need to take a blood thinning medication following surgery.

The decision to have mitral valve repair should be made with your doctor, who can certainly discuss its risks and benefits to your long-term health. The good news is that nearly all patients who choose to have the surgery have a perfectly working valve for years— sometimes decades—after the repair. So that’s one less thing to worry about!

Cardiothoracic Surgery at Bridgeport Hospital
Cardiothoracic surgery at Bridgeport Hospital has expanded to provide patients with expertise and experience in complex mitral valve repair, arrhythmia surgery, aortic arch and minimally invasive procedures unrivaled in Fairfield County. The comprehensive regionally based cardiothoracic surgery team includes

With offices in Bridgeport and Southport.

For more information, please call 1-888-384-4868.