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Mitral Valve Prolapse by Caitlin Kinnaman

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The Mitral Valve is located in the heart between the left ventricle and left atrium, and when working properly, it works to control blood flow between the upper and lower chambers in the heart’s left side.  When the heart contracts, the mitral valve closes to keep blood from flowing backward.

Mitral Valve Prolapse is a condition where the mitral valve does not close properly.  Backflow of blood may occur, but doesn’t always.  If there is blood leaking backward, it is called Mitral Valve Regurgitation, which is a more serious condition.  Ordinarily, Mitral Valve Prolapse does not cause symptoms and is not life-threatening.  Treatment is not necessary unless the patient is having symptoms.  Symptoms are typically due to some degree of regurgitation and may include:

  • Irregular Heart Beat
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Fatigue
  • Chest Pain
  • Cough
  • Migraine

Because most people living with Mitral Valve Prolapse do not experience symptoms, the condition is often discovered during tests for other things.  The patient’s physician may hear a clicking sound or a murmur when listening to the patient’s heart with a stethoscope.  An Echocardiogram is often used to diagnose Mitral Valve Prolapse.  Other diagnostic tests include:

  • Cardiac Catheterization
  • Chest X-ray
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG)
  • Stress Test

If the patient has symptoms that are problematic, treatment may consist of medication or in severe cases, surgery.  Bata blockers, Aspirin, and blood thinners are all commonly prescribed for the treatment of symptoms and prevention of complications.  If regurgitation develops, a valve repair or valve replacement surgery may be a treatment option.

Patients with Mitral Valve Prolapse used to be prescribed antibiotics to take before dental procedures to help prevent endocarditis but it is no longer necessary.  However, preventative antibiotics may still be given for larger surgical procedures or during childbirth.

The cause of Mitral Valve Prolapse is unknown, but it has a tendency to run in families.  Having connective tissue disorders, Scoliosis, some types of muscular dystrophy, or Grave’s disease put you at greater risk of having Mitral Valve Prolapse.  Most people diagnosed live normal lives without restriction.  Women with Mitral Valve Prolapse can have normal/healthy pregnancies.  It was once thought that as much as 15 percent of the population was affected by Mitral Valve Prolapse, but now with the help of better diagnostic tools and more research, it is believed that it may be affecting as little as three percent.

Mitral Valve Prolapse is also known as:

  • Balloon Mitral Valve
  • Barlow’s Syndrome
  • Billowing Mitral Valve
  • Click-Murmur Syndrome
  • Floppy Valve Syndrome
  • Myxomatous Mitral Valve
  • Prolapsing Mitral Valve Syndrome

It is important for a patient with Mitral Valve Prolapse to receive ongoing care.  The physician will want to schedule follow-up appointments to reassess the condition.  The patient should notify the physician if they have any signs of infection, sore throat, general body aches, or fever; as these may be signs of infective endocarditis (an infection of the lining of the heart).  Infective endocarditis can be caused by tooth decay and gum infections, so the patient should floss and brush their teeth regularly.


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