Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a common, usually benign heart disorder. The mitral valve controls blood flow between the upper and lower chambers on the left side of the heart. Normally, blood should only flow from the upper chamber into the lower chamber. In MVP, the valve flaps don’t work properly. Part of the valve balloons into the atrium, which may be associated with blood flowing in the wrong direction or leaking back into the lower chamber
Prolapsed Mitral Valve
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In most cases, the cause of MVP is unknown. In some cases, it appears to be an inherited genetic condition.
MVP usually presents between age 14 to 30 years old. Factors that may increase your chance of getting mitral valve prolapse include:
- Family history of mitral valve prolapse
- Sex: female
- Thin chest diameter
- Low body weight
- Low blood pressure
- Chest wall deformities
- Marfan syndrome
- Grave’s disease
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
- Ebstein's anomaly
People with mitral valve prolapse often do not have symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include one or more of the following:
- Chest pain
Panic attacks or
- Irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
Mitral valve prolapse can be heard through a stethoscope. A small blood leakage will sound like a murmur. When the mitral valve balloons backward, it may produce a clicking sound. Both murmurs and clicks are signs of MVP. An
can confirm the diagnosis. You may also be asked to wear a
for a day or two to record the electrical activity of your heart.
In most cases, no treatment is necessary. Although no longer routinely recommended, you may need to take antibiotics prior to some dental and medical procedures. This is to prevent heart infections. Ask your doctor if you will need to take antibiotics.
If symptoms include chest pain, anxiety, or panic attacks, a beta-blocker medication can be prescribed. Ask your doctor whether you may continue to participate in your usual physical activities.
In very rare cases, the blood leakage may become severe. In these few cases, the mitral valve may need to be surgically repaired or replaced.
There are no guidelines for preventing MVP of unknown or genetic origin.
You may be able to prevent symptoms, through certain lifestyle changes:
Limit your intake of
- Avoid medications that speed up your heart rate, including decongestants.
- Exercise regularly, following your doctor's recommendations.
Infective endocarditis. American Heart Association website. Available at:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/CongenitalHeartDefects/TheImpactofCongenitalHeartDefects/Infective-Endocarditis_UCM_307108_Article.jsp. Updated April 12, 2013. Accessed May 9, 2013.
Mitral valve prolapse. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 10, 2012. Accessed May 9, 2013.
Premedication (antibiotics). American Dental Association's Mouth Healthy website. Available at:
http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/p/Premedication-or-Antibiotics.aspx. Accessed May 9, 2013.
Last reviewed March 2014 by Michael J. Fucci, DO
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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