The mitral valve allows blood to flow from the left atrium down into the left ventricle, and it is a part of the high pressure environment of the left side of the heart. Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) occurs when one or both of its leaflets are enlarged and/or the muscles that support the leaflets are slightly elongated. The valve does not close evenly, causing the leaflets to collapse or bulge backwards into the left atrium. MVP is sometimes called click-murmur syndrome because it sounds like a click and a “woosh” when heard through a stethoscope.
What causes MVP?
MVP is a common condition, and it runs in families. It was usually present at birth for those who have it, and it lasts throughout life without causing problems. MVP has been associated with Marfan syndrome, a small-framed skeletal structure, minor chest wall deformities, scoliosis, and various other skeletal disorders.
MVP is diagnosed during a physical examination with the use of a stethoscope. Its characteristic sound is easily recognized by a trained physician. Rarely, a physician might order an echocardiogram to rule out a more serious form of heart valve disease, such as mitral valve regurgitation.
MVP is not usually a serious condition. Most patients with MVP are asymptomatic, but those who do experience problems report:
- Shortness of breath, especially when lying down or during physical exertion
- Chest pain
- Extreme fatigue
- Heart palpitations
If tests reveal mild to moderate MVP and the patient is asymptomatic, regular medical checkups are adequate to monitor the mitral valve. Treatment is usually unnecessary, and most patients lead normal, active lives. If the patient does have symptoms, then those individual symptoms would be addressed.
Preventative Antibiotics and Heart Valve Disease
Patients with heart valve disease who have an abnormal heart or who’ve had heart surgery risk developing endocarditis. The American Heart Association no longer recommends taking routine antibiotics before certain dental or surgical procedures except for people at the highest risk for bad outcomes if they do develop endocarditis.
Texas Heart Institute www.texasheartinstitute.com/HIC/Topics/Cond/vmitral.cfm
Mayo Clinic www.mayoclinic.org/mitral-valve-disease/surgery.html
American Heart Association www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4717