Mitral Valve Prolapse

Definition

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
Nucleus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

In most cases, the cause of MVP is unknown. In some cases, it appears to be an inherited genetic condition.

Risk Factors

MVP is more common in women, and most often appears between the ages of 14 and 30 years old. Other factors that may increase your chance of MVP include:

Symptoms

People with mitral valve prolapse often do not have symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include one or more of the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Panic attacks or anxiety
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness

Diagnosis

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 echocardiogram can confirm the diagnosis. You may also be asked to wear a Holter monitor for a day or two to record the electrical activity of your heart.

Treatment

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.

Prevention

There are no current guidelines for preventing MVP of unknown or genetic origin. However, you may be able to prevent symptoms through certain lifestyle changes:

  • Avoid excess caffeine and alcohol, and any drugs that speed up your heart rate.
  • Exercise regularly and eat a heart-healthy diet.

Revisions

All EBSCO Publishing proprietary, consumer health and medical information found on this site is accredited by URAC. URAC's Health Web Site Accreditation Program requires compliance with 53 rigorous standards of quality and accountability, verified by independent audits. To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at HLEditorialTeam@ebscohost.com.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
Copyright © 2008 EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.

Every minute counts if you suspect someone is having a stroke. Immediate treatment saves lives and increases the chances for a successful recovery. Don’t wait. Call 911.