Mitral Valve Prolapse
Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is the most common heart valve disorder in America. The mitral valve controls blood flow between the upper and lower chambers on the left side of the heart while the tricuspid valve controls the right side. Blood normally only flows one direction in the heart, from the upper chamber into the lower chamber. This allows the heart to beat as efficient as possible. In mitral valve prolapse, the valve flaps don’t work properly. Part of the valve can then protrude back into the upper chamber of the heart. If the valve is deformed enough blood can flow in the wrong direction causing what is called a regurgitation. If enough blood is moving back into the upper heart chamber, it can lead to heart failure. This condition ranges in severity from no more than a benign heart disorder to requiring open heart surgery.
People with mitral valve prolapse most often do not have symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include one or more of the following: Shortness of breath, lightheadedness, fatigue, chest pain, anxiety, irregular heartbeat, palpitations, and fainting, In mitral valve prolapse, usually the severity of the symptoms does no correlate to the severity of the disease. Therefor it is important to undergo evaluation and be followed regularly by a cardiologist after a diagnosis of MVP is made.
Mitral valve prolapse creates a heart murmur that can be heard through a stethoscope. The murmur is created when there is abnormal or turbulent blood flow. In this case that is when some of the blood refluxes back into the upper heart chamber. When the mitral valve protrudes backward, it may produce a clicking sound. Both murmurs and clicks are signs of MVP. An echocardiogram is the test we usually use to 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.
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. 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. If the valve is function poorly enough, surgery may be warranted.
Uri M. Ben-Zur, M.D., F.A.C.C. completed a residency in internal medicine and fellowships in interventional cardiology, clinical cardiology, and clinical electrophysiology. He currently practices at the The Paulette Tashnek-Wagner Cardiovascular Institute of Greater Los Angeles located in Tarzana, CA.
Mitral Valve Prolapse. Digital image. MD Guidelines. N.p., n.d. Web. <https://www.mdguidelines.com/mitral-valve-prolapse>.