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Definition

What is mitral valve prolapse?

Mitral valve prolapse is a condition in which the two valve flaps of the mitral valve do not close smoothly or evenly, but instead bulge (prolapse) upward into the left atrium. Mitral valve prolapse is also known as click-murmur syndrome, Barlow’s syndrome or floppy valve syndrome.

How common is mitral valve prolapse?

Mitral valve prolapse is a common disorder afflicting 2- 3% of the general population. Based on a prevalence of 2-3%, mitral valve prolapse would be expected to affect approximately 7.8 million individuals in the United States and over 176 million people worldwide. Mitral valve prolapse is most commonly found in men over age 50. It is also found more often in people born with disorders of the connective tissue (collagen, ligaments, tendons, etc.).

However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of mitral valve prolapse?

Although mitral valve prolapse is usually a permanent disorder, many people experiencing this condition never have symptoms. When it is diagnosed, people may be surprised to learn that they have a heart disease.

When signs and symptoms occur, it may be because blood is leaking backward through the valve (regurgitation). Mitral valve prolapse symptoms can vary widely from one person to another. They tend to be mild and develop gradually. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • A racing or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, often when lying flat or during physical activity
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain that’s not caused by a heart attack or coronary artery disease

When should I see my doctor?

If you think you experience any of the symptoms listed above, please make an appointment with your doctor.

Many other conditions cause the same symptoms as mitral valve prolapse, so only a visit to your doctor can determine the cause of your symptoms. If you are having chest pain and you are not sure if it could be a heart attack, seek emergency medical care immediately.

If you have already been diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse, see your doctor if your symptoms worsen.

Or if you have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes mitral valve prolapse?

The most common cause of mitral valve prolapse is abnormally stretchy valve leaflets ( myxomatous valve disease ). Mitral valve prolapse occurs in around 2 percent of the population. A person can be born with the genetic risk of developing mitral valve prolapse or it can be caused by other health problems, such as some connective tissue diseases.

When your heart is working, the mitral valve completely closes during contraction of the left ventricle and prevents blood from flowing back into your heart’s upper left chamber (left atrium).

The bulging may keep the valve from closing tightly. When blood leaks backward through the valve, it is called mitral valve regurgitation.

This may not cause problems if only a small amount of blood leaks back into the atrium. More severe mitral valve regurgitation can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue or lightheadedness.

Other names to describe mitral valve prolapse include:

  • Barlow’s syndrome
  • Floppy valve syndrome
  • Balloon mitral valve
  • Billowing mitral valve
  • Myxomatous mitral valve
  • Prolapsing mitral valve syndrome

Risk factors

What increases my risk for mitral valve prolapse?

Risk factors for this condition include:

  • Mitral valve prolapse often runs in families, so you may be more likely to have it if unfortunately your parents or other relatives do.
  • Certain conditions may lead to mitral valve prolapse. These include:
  • Scoliosis–curvature of the spine
  • Adult polycystic kidney disease–a genetic condition in which large cysts interfere with kidney function
  • Connective tissue problems such as Marfan’s syndrome–a genetic condition that affects the connective tissue of the skeletal and cardiovascular systems, eyes, and skin

Diagnosis & Treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

 

How is mitral valve prolapse diagnosed?

In most cases, your doctor will initially find out MVP when using a stethoscope to listen to your heart. If you have the condition, your heart may make a clicking sound when it beats. This sound is usually more obvious when you are standing. Hearing this click might lead your doctor to order further tests.

Your doctor will usually perform several tests to better understand your heart before making a diagnosis, include:

  • Your doctor may order an X-ray and/or an echocardiogram. Both of these tests provide images of your heart, but the echocardiogram shows more structural details. Your doctor can check the images to see if you have mitral valve prolapse or regurgitation. Depending on your condition, a cardiac catheterization may be performed by your doctor. In this procedure, dye (which is visible on X-rays) is injected into the arteries of your heart using a catheter (tube) that has been threaded through a blood vessel in your neck, arm, or upper thigh.
  • Your doctor might ask you to exercise on a treadmill or perform some other physical activity to see how your heart responds. This is called a stress test.
  • An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a way to check your heartbeat for irregularities. It is a recording of a few seconds of your heart’s electrical activity. This can help your doctor diagnose mitral valve prolapse or other heart conditions.

How is mitral valve prolapse treated?

Mitral valve prolapse causes no problems for most patients, so treatment is usually unnecessary.

People who develop severe mitral regurgitation due to mitral valve prolapse often can benefit from surgery to repair or replace the leaky valve. For people with symptoms of congestive heart failure caused by mitral valve prolapse with mitral regurgitation, surgery is usually considered as the best treatment.

If no mitral regurgitation is present on echocardiogram, symptoms of mitral valve prolapse rarely pose any risk. The best treatment for each person may vary, but can include:

  • Exercise
  • Pain relievers
  • Relaxation and stress reduction techniques
  • Avoidance of caffeine and other stimulants

Beta-blockers, which are medications to slow the heart rate, may be helpful in people who have episodes of palpitations with a rapid heartbeat, known as tachycardia, with mitral valve prolapse.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage mitral valve prolapse?

Most people with mitral valve prolapse lead normal, productive and symptom-free lives.

Doctors generally won’t recommend restrictions on your lifestyle or any limitations on your personal exercise or dietary program. However, ask your doctor if he or she recommends any changes to your lifestyle. If you have severe mitral valve regurgitation, your doctor may recommend you avoid exercises that could worsen your condition, such as weightlifting.

Your doctor may recommend regular follow-up visits to evaluate your condition.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Review Date: March 11, 2017 | Last Modified: March 11, 2017

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