What is Mitral Valve Prolapse?
Mitral valve prolapse is a type of myxomatous valve disease. The tissue of the mitral valve leaflets and chordae are abnormally stretchy, so that as the heart beats, the mitral valve bows or flops back into the left atrium.
- Those with mitral valve prolapse may not have any regurgitation (leaky valve) or they may have a range of severity from a mild leak to a very floppy, leaky valve.
- The majority of people have no leak or a mild leak. In this case, MVP is not a cause for concern. A small percentage of people with mitral valve prolapse have severe MVP, requiring further treatment.
- Mitral valve prolapse is very common, affecting about three to five percent of the population.
- Females are affected twice as often as males.
- Mitral valve prolapse can be seen in children, teens, and adults.
What are the symptoms of Mitral Valve Prolapse?
Most people with MVP have no symptoms. Some people have symptoms such as:
- bursts of rapid heartbeat (palpitations)
- chest discomfort
- easily tired (fatigue)
- shortness of breath
Symptoms do not always relate to how serious your MVP is. You may have frequent symptoms, yet diagnostic tests may show your valve leak is not significant. These symptoms may cause you to worry, but they are not dangerous or life threatening, and, may not require treatment at all.
How is Mitral Valve Prolapse diagnosed?
Mitral valve prolapse is usually diagnosed during a routine physical exam. MVP is called the click-murmur sound because the doctor will hear a click and a murmur (abnormal blood flow through the valve) as the valve leaflets bow back into left atrium with each heartbeat.
Other tests used to diagnose valve disease may include :
- Transesophageal echocardiography
- Cardiac Catheterization (cardiac cath or angiogram)
- Radionuclide scans
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
How is Mitral Valve Prolapse treated?
In most cases mitral valve prolapse is treated with:
If you have symptoms with mitral valve prolapse, it can cause anxiety about your heart and the severity of your valve disease. However, most people with MVP need only endocarditis prevention and yearly follow-up appointments. No further treatment is needed.
If you have MVP, you are at low risk for getting endocarditis, an infection that causes damage to the heart valves, but you should follow these guidelines:
- Tell your doctors and dentist you have valve disease. You may want to carry a card with this information.
- Call your doctor if you have symptoms of an infection (sore throat, general body achiness, and fever). Colds and flus do not cause endocarditis. But, infections, which may have the same symptoms, do. So, to be safe, call your doctor.
- Practice good oral hygiene habits every day. Good oral health is generally more effective in reducing your risk of bacterial endocarditis than is taking preventive antibiotics before certain procedures. Take good care of your teeth and gums by:
- Seeking professional dental care every six months
- Regularly brushing and flossing your teeth
- Making sure dentures fit properly
- Learn more about good oral hygeine and heart disease
Regular Follow-up Visits
- Your doctor will want to monitor the progress of your valve disease with regular appointments. They may be spaced once a year or more often, if your doctor feels you need to be followed more closely.
- Your appointment will include a medical exam. Diagnostic studies may be repeated at regular intervals.
In about 10 to 15 percent of people with MVP, further treatment is needed. In this case, valve surgery will be performed to repair the mitral valve.
How to find a doctor if you have Mitral Valve Prolapse
- Gillinov AM. Chordal transfer for repair of anterior leaflet prolapse. Multimedia Manual of Cardiothoracic Surg, 2005.
- Gillinov AM, Cosgrove DM. Current status of mitral valve repair. Am Heart Hosp J, 2003;1:47-54.
- Gillinov AM, Faber CN, Houghtaling PL, Blackstone EH, Lam BK, Diaz R, Lytle BW, et al. Repair versus replacement for degenerative mitral valve disease with coexisting ischemic heart disease. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg, 2003;125:1350-62.
- Gillinov AM, Banbury MK, Cosgrove DM. Hemisternotomy approach for aortic and mitral valve surgery. J Card Surg, 2000;15:15-20.
- Gillinov AM, Banbury MK, Cosgrove DM. Is minimally invasive heart valve surgery a paradigm for the future? Curr Cardiol Rep, 1999;1:318-22. Review.
- Gillinov AM, Cosgrove DM, Blackstone EH, Diaz R, Arnold JH, Lytle BW, Smedira NG, Sabik JF, McCarthy PM, Loop FD. Durability of mitral valve repair for degenerative disease. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 1998;116:734-43.
- Alpert J, Sabek J, Cosgrove D. (1998) Mitral Valve Disease, Mitral Valve Disease, In Topol E. (Ed.), Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine (pp.503-532). Philadelphia: Lipincott-Raven.
- For more information on valve disease and its treatment, see Valve Disease