Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) occurs when the valve between your heart’s left upper chamber (left atrium) and the left lower chamber (left ventricle) doesn’t close properly.
During mitral valve prolapse, the leaflets of the mitral valve bulge (prolapse) upward or back into the left atrium as the heart contracts.
Mitral (MY-trul) valve prolapse sometimes leads to blood leaking backward into the left atrium, a condition called mitral valve regurgitation.
In most people, mitral valve prolapse isn’t life-threatening and doesn’t require treatment or changes in lifestyle. Some people with mitral valve prolapse, however, require treatment.
- Mitral valve prolapse (mitral valve prolapse) is the most common heart valve abnormality.
- Most patients with mitral valve prolapse have no symptoms and require no treatment.
- Mitral valve prolapse can be associated with fatigue and/or palpitations.
- Mitral valve prolapse can often be detected by a doctor during examination of the heart. mitral valve prolapse can be confirmed with an echocardiogram.
- Patients with mitral valve prolapse are usually given antibiotics prior to any procedure which might introduce bacteria into the bloodstream, including dental work and minor surgery.
Most people with mitral valve prolapse have no symptoms. They also never experience any health problems due to mitral valve prolapse.
Chest pain is the most frequent symptom in people who have symptoms with mitral valve prolapse. The chest pain may be very bothersome and frightening, but it does not increase the risk of heart attack, death, or other heart problems.
Mitral valve prolapse is the most common cause of mitral regurgitation. That’s a condition in which some blood flows backward through the mitral valve with each heartbeat. Over years, moderate or severe mitral regurgitation can cause weakness of the heart muscle, known as congestive heart failure.
Symptoms of congestive heart failure include:
- Shortness of breath with exertion
- Swelling in the legs and feet
- Mitral valve prolapse has also been associated with other symptoms:
- Fluttering or rapid heartbeat called palpitations
- Shortness of breath, especially with exercise
- Passing out or fainting , known as syncope
- Panic and anxiety
- Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
When these symptoms occur together, they are sometimes called mitral valve prolapse syndrome. However, experts don’t know if mitral valve prolapse itself causes these symptoms. Since these symptoms and mitral valve prolapse are so common, they could often occur together by chance.
Mitral valve prolapse can develop in any person at any age.
Serious symptoms of mitral valve prolapse tend to occur most often in men older than 50.
Mitral valve prolapse can run in families and may be linked to several other conditions, such as:
- Marfan syndrome
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
- Ebstein’s anomaly
- Muscular dystrophy
- Graves’ disease
Mitral valve prolapse causes no problems for most people, so treatment is usually not needed.
People who develop severe mitral regurgitation due to mitral valve prolapse often can benefit from surgery to repair or replace the leaky valve. For people with symptoms of congestive heart failure caused by mitral valve prolapse with mitral regurgitation, surgery is usually the best treatment.
If no mitral regurgitation is present on echocardiogram, symptoms of mitral valve prolapse rarely pose any risk. The best treatment for each person may vary, but can include:
- Pain relievers
- Relaxation and stress reduction techniques
- Avoidance of caffeine and other stimulants
- Beta-blockers, which are medications to slow the heart rate, may be helpful in people who have episodes of palpitations with a rapid heartbeat, known as tachycardia, with mitral valve prolapse.
In a child with MVP with regurgitation (leaking), there is a small risk of a bacterial infection of the heart valve (infective endocarditis). It very rarely happens during childhood. Many times the bacteria that cause this kind of infection start out living in the mouth and from there enter the bloodstream through the gums and then, even more rarely, cause the infection.
For many years, it was recommended to give a dose of antibiotics before dental work and surgical procedures as a precaution. Following a review and published report by The American Heart Association in 2007, it is no longer recommended that antibiotics be given, as they were not found to reliably protect the patient.
Instead, you and your child should focus your attention on good mouth care:
- Brush teeth twice a day, morning and night (after eating).
- Floss the teeth each night.
- See your dentist every 6-months.
Your child’s cardiologist will advise you if there are reasons to do something other than follow this guideline.