About 3% of the population suffer from mitral valve prolapse (MVP), a condition in which one or both flaps of the mitral valve flop or bulge back (prolapse) into the left atrium when the left ventricle contracts. A portion of people with MVP have significant flow of blood backward from the ventricle into the atrium. This condition is known as severe mitral regurgitation (MR) and causes complications and troublesome symptoms such as shortness of breath, a racing or irregular heartbeat, or chest pain. Regurgitation can get worse over time and lead to changes in the heart’s size and higher pressures in the left atrium and lungs.
A landmark study was recently conducted by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Researchers found that people with severe mitral valve regurgitation are five times more likely to die prematurely than people with mild or no regurgitation. The group also has a six-fold risk of congestive heart failure, heart attack and other cardiac problems.
Kardium is developing a percutaneous device for treating mitral valve regurgitation.