Practice variation among cardiovascular physicians in management of patients with mitral regurgitation

Am J Cardiol. 2009 Jan 15;103(2):255-61. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2008.09.065. Epub 2008 Nov 12.


Severe mitral regurgitation (MR), whether isolated or with coronary disease, was associated with adverse clinical outcomes. However, clinician practice is characterized by different thresholds for treatment. No data exist that described current practice patterns, factors that affected these patterns, or whether physicians followed American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines in clinical practice for patients with MR. Cardiovascular specialists were surveyed using e-mail, and 1,076 physicians completed the survey (71% response rate), including adult cardiologists (94%) and cardiac surgeons (5%) who practiced in the United States (78%), Canada (5%), and other nations (17%). Wide variations were noted regarding rates of referral of asymptomatic patients with severe MR for mitral valve repair. There was geographic and specialty-dependent heterogeneity in practice. Most physicians (65%) used medications to delay the progression of MR in the absence of guideline recommendations. A minority (28%) of respondents routinely quantitated MR by calculating the effective regurgitant orifice area. In patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention, MR severity was not assessed before the procedure by 1 in 4 providers, and the presence of MR frequently did not affect clinical care decisions. In conclusion, considerable variability existed in the clinical management of MR, particularly regarding referral of asymptomatic patients for mitral valve reparative surgery. Medications were frequently used to treat asymptomatic patients with MR in the absence of evidence of pharmacologic efficacy. MR was frequently not considered a relevant factor before treatment of patients with coexistent coronary artery disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mitral Valve Insufficiency / therapy*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States