Mitral Valve Prolapse

Mitral valve prolapse is an abnormality in one of the valves of the heart. It is also known as MVP, click-murmur syndrome, Barlow's syndrome, balloon mitral valve and floppy valve syndrome.

In a normal heart, blood flows from the left atrium chamber through the mitral valve into the left ventricle. The blood is then pumped out of the left ventricle and circulated through the body's blood vessels. When this happens, the two halves (leaflets or cusps) of the mitral valve close to prevents blood from being pushed back into the left atrium.

In mitral valve prolapse, the two halves of the mitral valve are larger than they should be. When the two halves close, they prolapse or "flop" backward into the left atrium and do not close up evenly. As a result, blood can flow backward through the crack (with a characteristing clicking and whoosing or murmuring sound).

How Common is it?

Mitral valve prolapse is a common condition - it is estimated that about 1 in 10 people have it, most with no symptoms or health problems.

If you know that you have this condition, you should notify your doctor, surgeon, and dentists before any medical procedure, as heart abnormality may cause it to become more susceptible to bacterial infection or endocarditis.

Symptoms of Mitral Valve Prolapse

The symptoms of this condition include:

  • Chest pain, often vague or subtle
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irregular heartbeat (fluttering or skipping a beat)

The cause of chest pain is not exactly known - medically, it is considered a discomfort rather than a serious health concern.

Diagnosis of Mitral Valve Prolapse

Your doctor would perform the following tests to diagnose mitral valve prolapse:

  • Examination using stethoscope
    A characteristic murmur, whooshing or clicking sound can be heard.

  • Echocardiogram
    Also called a heart ultrasound, this technique can show the prolapse or flopping of the mitral valve.

Possible Complications

In some cases, stress on the flopping valve halves can cause a cord that stabilize these halves to break. This will cause more blood to leak through in a condition called mitral regurgitation.

Treatment for Mitral Valve Prolapse

Most people with mitral valve prolapse do not have any symtoms or health problems. However, persistent irregular heartbeat may require prescription medicine, such as beta blockers, to slow and stabilize heartbeat.

Severe valve abnormalities or damage (such as in mitral regurgitation) may require surgery to repair or replace the valve.

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