Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a common form of mitral valve disease that is harmless for most people. However, it can become dangerous if it leads to severe mitral regurgitation (leaky valve). People with severe regurgitation may need valve repair or replacement. MVP is diagnosed through a physical exam and echocardiography.
Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a condition in which your mitral valve bows or flops back into your left atrium. That’s why it’s sometimes called “floppy valve syndrome.” This floppiness may prevent your valve from closing as tightly as it should.
MVP is a common form of mitral valve disease, and often it’s harmless. Many people have no symptoms and don’t even know they have it. That’s because their valve can still function well. But some people with moderate or severe prolapse have symptoms and may need treatment.
The main complication of MVP is mitral regurgitation. This means blood leaks the wrong way through your valve. MVP is one of the most common causes of mitral regurgitation. If the leak is severe enough, you may need surgery or a procedure to help your valve work as it should.
Your mitral valve is the door that connects your left atrium with your left ventricle. These are the two chambers of your heart responsible for collecting oxygen-rich blood from your lungs and then pumping it out to your body.
Your mitral valve is made of two strong flaps of tissue called leaflets or cusps. These leaflets open and shut with each heartbeat to manage blood flow out of your left atrium and into your left ventricle.
The leaflets are attached to a ring of tough, fibrous tissue called the annulus. This ring gives your mitral valve its shape. The leaflets are also supported by chordae tendineae. These are tough, fibrous strings. They look a bit like strings that support a parachute.
Mitral valve prolapse is a type of myxomatous valve disease. This means the tissue of your mitral valve leaflets and chordae are abnormally stretchy. This causes the valve “floppiness” that defines mitral valve prolapse.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Mitral valve prolapse is a form of heart valve disease. And heart valve diseases fall under the big umbrella of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular diseases are any conditions that affect your heart or blood vessels.
Mitral valve prolapse affects people of all ages. It’s seen in children, teens and adults. Some people are born with mitral valve prolapse, including those who have connective tissue disorders.
MVP is more common in women and people assigned female at birth. However, men and people assigned male at birth are more likely to develop severe mitral valve regurgitation.
MVP affects 2% to 3% of the general population.
Mitral valve prolapse may not harm your body. But in some cases, it can lead to mitral valve regurgitation, known as a leaky valve. People who have mitral valve prolapse and regurgitation are at risk for complications including:
If you’ve been diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse, talk with your provider to learn more about how it’s affecting your body. It’s important to know the level of severity and what you can expect down the road.
Mitral valve prolapse doesn’t cause symptoms for most people. And those who do have symptoms might not have a severe form of the condition. Symptoms and severity don’t always go hand-in-hand when it comes to mitral valve prolapse. Still, it’s important to share any and all symptoms with your provider.
Symptoms may include:
Mitral valve prolapse is caused by valve tissue weakness. This condition is known as myxomatous degeneration. It’s not always clear what causes this tissue weakness. In some cases, it may be passed down within families. Mitral valve prolapse has been associated with several genes, including FLNA, DCHS1, DZIP1 and PLD1.
Some connective tissue disorders may cause myxomatous degeneration. These include Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Loeys-Dietz syndrome.
Mitral valve disease is diagnosed through a physical exam and tests.
Your provider can learn a lot by listening to your heart with a stethoscope. If you have mitral valve prolapse, your provider will hear a clicking sound followed by a murmur. This condition is also called “click-murmur syndrome” because of its distinctive sound.
During your exam, your provider will also discuss your medical history and family history with you. Since mitral valve prolapse sometimes runs in families, this information is important to know.
If your provider suspects you have MVP or another valve issue, they’ll recommend at least one test to confirm the diagnosis.
Echocardiography is the main method used to diagnose MVP. An echocardiogram (echo) uses ultrasound technology to check your heart’s structure and function. There are different types of echo tests. Your may need one or both of the following types:
Your provider may recommend additional tests to learn more about your heart. These include:
Many people with mitral valve prolapse don’t need treatment. If you have a mild form, your provider may simply keep an eye on things. They may prescribe beta-blockers to manage symptoms like dizziness or heart palpitations.
If you have atrial fibrillation or a past history of a stroke, you may need to take anticoagulants (blood thinners). Talk with your provider about which medications, if any, are right for you.
Some people with MVP need surgery. There are two main surgical options:
The best treatment plan for you depends on many factors, including:
Talk with your provider about which treatment plan is best for you. As with all interventions, the benefits need to outweigh the risks. People over age 80 face higher risks with surgery. Other factors can impact your risks, too. Make sure you understand both the benefits and risks of any surgery or procedure.
About 1 in 10 people with mitral valve prolapse need their valve repaired or replaced. You may need valve repair or replacement if:
There’s no specific way to prevent mitral valve prolapse. But you can reduce your risk of acquired heart valve disease (valve problems that come up as you get older). Some tips include:
Following these tips can also help you stay strong enough for surgery, should you need it.
Talk with your provider about how to make lifestyle changes that feel doable to you. Start small, and remember that every small change you make can add up to make a big impact down the road.
The life expectancy for people with mitral valve prolapse depends on many factors. These include:
Mitral valve repair can help you live just as long as people without valve issues. One study shows that the life expectancy of people who had repair is the same as the life expectancy for the general population. This held true for people age 40 to 89.
So, if you have mitral valve prolapse, it’s important to get regular checkups and tell your provider about any new or changing symptoms. This will allow you to get treatment if and when you need it.
People who have severe regurgitation but don’t have their valve repaired face poor outcomes. They have a 20% chance of dying within one year and a 50% chance of dying within five years.
Talk with your provider about your specific situation and prognosis.
Talk with your provider to learn what you can expect and when you should be concerned. It’s common for people with mitral valve prolapse to feel anxiety and concern over their condition. But in many cases, mild symptoms are not a reason to worry. Your provider can prescribe medication to manage things like a fast heartbeat or heart palpitations.
But it’s important to recognize symptoms when they happen. No symptom is too small to share with your provider. Even if you think it’s nothing, tell your provider about what you’re feeling. They’ll make sure you get checked when needed so you can feel comfortable going about your daily life.
Some people with mitral valve disease may need to avoid intense exercise. It’s essential that you talk with your provider to learn about limitations specific to you and your diagnosis. Activity restrictions depend on many factors. These include whether you have:
Many people with MVP don’t have activity restrictions, but check with your provider before starting any new workout plan, just to be safe.
Mitral valve prolapse can get worse as you get older. That’s why it’s important to keep all your appointments with your healthcare provider. They’ll monitor your valve and discuss treatment options with you if needed.
Valve disease is more common among people who are over age 65. This is partly because of the wear and tear that your heart from daily life. But heart problems like coronary artery disease or heart attacks can also take a toll on your valves, including your mitral valve. This is especially true for people over age 75.
Talk with your provider to learn more about how aging affects your mitral valve.
Your provider will let you know how often you need to come in for follow-ups. It’s important to keep all your appointments. You may also need regular tests (like echocardiograms) to check on the health of your mitral valve.
Call 911 or your local emergency number if you experience:
If you’re on blood thinners (anticoagulants) and fall, you need to seek care right away. That’s because blood thinners raise your risk of internal bleeding. Even if you feel OK, it’s important to get checked by a medical professional. Internal bleeding can be fatal if not treated.
If you just learned you have mitral valve prolapse, you probably have many questions. It’s OK to take your time and learn a little bit at a time. As you learn more about your condition, you’ll think of new questions to ask your provider. Here are a few to get you started:
If you feel confused or don’t understand something, ask your provider to explain it again. You may also want to ask about available resources and support groups. Many people benefit from talking with others who are going through similar medical experiences. Together, you can learn more about your condition and what to expect going forward.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Mitral valve prolapse is a common condition that may not change your life at all. But if it leads to mitral regurgitation (leaky valve), you may need treatment to prevent or minimize damage to your heart. This often involves valve repair surgery or a minimally invasive procedure to help your valve work better. Talk with your provider about the risks and benefits of valve repair, and ask about all available options.
If you need valve repair, it’s important to choose a hospital that does these types of procedures every day. High-volume hospitals are prepared to use the latest technology to reduce your risks and give you the best possible outcomes.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/04/2022.
Learn more about our editorial process.