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Mitral Valve Prolapse: Symptoms and Treatments by Tiffani Beekman

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The inside of a human heart has four chambers and four valves lined by a thin membrane called an endocardium. The four chambers consist of the right atrium, left atrium, right ventricle, and left ventricle. The four valves within those chambers are the tricuspid valve, mitral (bicuspid) valve, aortic semilunar valve, and pulmonary semilunar valve. The mitral valve and tricuspid valves are connected to tiny structures known as chordae tendineae. These help prevent backflow into the left and right atria during ventricular contraction. The mitral valve is located on the left side of the heart and is associated with the heart condition known as Mitral Valve Prolapse.

The background of mitral valve prolapse is recognized as a condition in which the mitral valve cusps do not close properly and are pushed back toward the left atrium. In a person with a healthy heart, without mitral valve prolapse, when the ventricles contract the mitral valve closes tightly and prevents backflow of blood from the left ventricle into the left atrium. On the other hand in a person with mitral valve prolapse, the mitral valve and chordae tendineae become affected by a process called myxomatous degeneration. With this the protein collagen forms abnormally causing changes in thickness, and or enlargement of the valve and chordae. Blood normally flows through the mitral valve from the left atrium to the left ventricle of the heart. When ventricles contract the valve prolapses backward into the left atrium and lets blood leak through the valve opening back into the left atrium. This is also known as mitral regurgitation.

Mitral valve prolapse is the most common heart valve abnormality. There are different severities in the signs, symptoms, and diagnosis of mitral valve prolapse. The mild symptoms include heart palpitation and fatigue. The more severe symptoms include abnormal heart rhythms, fainting, chest pain, and anxiety attacks, people with these symptoms may need to be seen more frequently by a doctor to watch the progression of the condition. The symptoms of mitral valve prolapse can be brought on by stress, pregnancy, and menstrual cycles. Most people who have the condition may not notice the signs or symptoms of the prolapse. Mitral regurgitation is a more severe case of mitral valve prolapse and can lead to heart failure. Surgery for repair or replacement can be done for people who have cases this advanced. Having high blood pressure or being overweight increases the risk of mitral regurgitation. The major risk for people with mitral valve prolapse is endocarditis which is a valve infection due to bacteria in the bloodstream. This is why when having any procedure a person with the condition should be given antibiotics prior to the procedure.

The testing used for diagnosis consists of an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, and chest X-rays. Some of the treatments provided for mitral valve prolapse are beta-blockers such as atenolol, metoprolol, and propranolol. These medications increase the size of the left ventricle and reduce the amount of prolapse. Calcium blockers like verapamil and diltiazem are useful for people who cannot take beta-blockers.

Most people with mitral valve prolapse have mild episodes and infrequently. To manage the situation it is suggested to visit a doctor every couple of years. While the exact cause is unknown, it is proclaimed that it has a strong hereditary trend. It is most common in women but also occurs in men. Overall, a person with mitral valve prolapse can lead a healthy and active life.



American Heart Association. April 26, 2013. Mitral Valve Prolapse: Retrieved Oct. 03, 2013


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Medicine Net. (n.d.).Dr. Daniel Kulick: Retrieved Oct. 03, 2013

website: www.medicinenet.com

Mayo Clinic. April 21, 2011.Mitral Valve Prolapse: Retrieved Oct. 03, 2013

website: www.mayoclinic.com

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. July 01, 2011. Retrieved Oct. 03, 2013

website: www.nih.gov/health



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