Mitral Insufficiency

Mitral insufficiency is a condition in which the mitral valve, one of the valves in the heart, does not close properly, letting blood leak back into the heart. Heart valves are supposed to help blood flow in one direction between the heart chambers, or in and out of the heart. It is the most common type of heart valve disorder. The mitral valve is on the left side of the heart and lets blood flow from the upper to the lower heart chamber. Due to an infection or some other cause, the mitral valve may not close tightly, allowing blood to leak backward. That in turn creates a decrease in blood flow to the rest of the body and makes the heart work harder.

While small leaks are usually not a cause for concern, larger leaks can weaken the heart over time. Doctors can pinpoint mitral valve regurgitation through hearing a certain type of heart murmur. There are two kinds of mitral regurgitation: chronic, the most common type that develops slowly and may worsen as the person gets older; and acute, which develops quickly and is a medical emergency.


With the first and largest comprehensive heart valve program in the state, UAB Medicine provides continuing care for patients who have or are at risk for valve disease. Our team of surgeons and cardiologists are among the nation’s most highly regarded physicians, and they provide a multidisciplinary approach to the diagnosis and treatment of valve disease. From aortic valve stenosis to mitral valve regurgitation, and from traditional open-heart surgery to the latest in minimally invasive procedures and robotic-assisted valve repair surgery, UAB patients benefit from our expertise in treating patients with valve disease.

The UAB Comprehensive Valve Program has built an impressive list of accomplishments in recent years. Our cardiologists and heart surgeons performed the first transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) in Alabama; to date UAB has performed more TAVRs than any other hospital in the state. As an added service, patients who have been told by non-UAB doctors that they need valve surgery can speak to a UAB valve surgeon for a second opinion.

Images and Videos


Related Conditions

This procedure may be used to treat or diagnose several different conditions. We have listed some of these conditions below for your convenience. Please note that this is not a comprehensive list and may vary depending on your specific diagnosis.



UAB is an active participant in research and clinical trials for the diagnosis and treatment of mitral regurgitation. We encourage you to speak to your physician about research and clinical trial options and browse the link below for more information.

View Clinical Trials