Physical activity and mitral valve regurgitation

You may need to be cautious about physical activity if you have symptoms, irregular heart rhythms, or changes in your heart size or function. But regular activity, even low-level activity such as walking, will help keep your heart healthy. If you want to start being more active, talk to your doctor first. Your doctor will help you create a safe exercise plan.

If you have mild to moderate mitral valve regurgitation (MR) and do not have symptoms, you likely do not have to limit your physical activity.

But if you have severe MR, you may need to limit your physical activity.

  • People who have no symptoms and whose left ventricle functions normally may participate in normal physical activity and exercise without limitation.
  • People who have mild symptoms, enlargement of the left ventricle, or atrial fibrillation should limit their exercise to activities that place low to moderate demands on the heart. Exercises such as walking and swimming may be appropriate.
  • Any exercise program you begin should advance gradually.

You should avoid isometric exercise, which is exercise that uses muscle contraction to strengthen and tone your muscles. Isometric exercise usually involves pushing against resistance, as in weight lifting. These types of exercises can elevate your blood pressure, thereby increasing the force against which your heart must pump blood. As a rule, avoid activities that involve sudden physical exertion at a level that is significantly greater than that required for your normal activities.

If you have questions or concerns about what physical activities are appropriate for you, talk to your doctor. Even with MR, you may be able to develop an exercise plan that suits your lifestyle.

Last Updated: February 12, 2010

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