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Mitral valve prolapse

What is it?

  • The heart has four rooms or chambers in it that hold blood. The upper chambers are called atria (A-tre-ah) and the lower chambers are called ventricles (VEN-tri-kls). Between the chambers are valves. These valves act as one-way doors to direct the flow of blood through the heart. The mitral (MI-tral) valve is made up of two leaflets (flaps) that open and close to control blood flow to the left ventricle. Mitral valve prolapse (PRO-laps) happens when the leaflets of the mitral valve in your heart do not close properly.
  • MVP may also be called click-murmur syndrome or floppy-valve syndrome. With MVP, the leaflets may not work right because they are too big or floppy. MVP can also happen if the chords that hold the leaflets in place become stretched or swollen. When listening to your heart, your caregiver may hear a clicking sound because of the floppy leaflets. Some of the blood from the ventricle may come backward into the atrium because the leaflets do not work right. This causes a leaking or "whooshing" sound, which is called a murmur.

What causes MVP? MVP is common, even in healthy people. You can be born with MVP or may develop it later in life. MVP may be genetic (runs in the family). Your MVP may have been caused by a childhood illness, such as rheumatic fever. Having certain other health conditions may increase your chance of having MVP. Many times the cause of MVP is not known.

Signs and Symptoms:

You may not know you have MVP until caregivers listen to your heart. Most people with MVP never have any symptoms. Symptoms that sometimes occur with MVP include:

  • Chest pain or tightness.
  • Feeling faint, dizzy, or lightheaded.
  • Feeling unusually tired.
  • Heart palpitations (you feel like your heart is pounding).
  • Skipped heart beats or an irregular or fast heart rate.
  • Shortness of breath.

Wellness Recommendations:

Avoid caffeine, decongestants, medicine that decreases your appetite, or other stimulants. This may decrease MVP symptoms.

Medical Care:

No treatment is usually needed for MVP. You may lead a normal active life. An echocardiogram (ECHO) may be done. This is a test that takes a picture of your heart valves. Before having dental care, you may need to take antibiotic medicine. Sometimes surgery or medicine may be needed to treat MVP. See your caregiver every year to check your heart.

Herbs and Supplements:

Before taking any herbs or supplements, ask your caregiver if it is OK. Talk to your caregiver about how much you should take. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to. The herbs and supplements listed may or may not help treat your condition.

Supplements:

  • Coenzyme Q10 has been used, but has not been studied in people who have MVP.
  • Magnesium may be helpful for MVP and has been studied in people.

Complementary Therapies:

  • Biofeedback may decrease MVP symptoms.

Other ways of treating your symptoms:

Other ways to treat your symptoms are available to you.

Talk to your caregiver if:

  • You would like medicine to treat mitral valve prolapse.
  • Your symptoms have not gone away or improved by these self-help measures.
  • Any of your symptoms are getting worse.
  • You have questions about what you have read in this document.

SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:

  • Call 911 or O (operator) if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may mean you are having a heart attack. Do not drive yourself!
  • Crushing chest pressure or pain in the center of the chest that spreads to your shoulders, arms, jaw, neck, or back. The pain may be like a burning feeling that feels like heartburn. Chest pain may last more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  • Cold sweats or sweating.
  • Short of breath.
  • Too dizzy to stand up.

Care Agreement:

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with your caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

References:

1. Clark RW, Boudoulas H, Schaal SF et al: Adrenergic hyperactivity and cardiac abnormality in primary disorders of sleep. Neurology 1980; 30(2):113-119.

2. Lichodziejewska B, Klos J, Rezler J et al: Clinical symptoms of mitral valve prolapse are related to hypomagnesemia and attenuated by magnesium supplementation. Am J Cardiol 1997; 79(6):768-772.

3. Smith MS, Doroshow C, Womack WM et al: Symptomatic mitral valve prolapse in children and adolescents: catecholamines, anxiety, and biofeedback. Pediatrics 1989; 84(2):290-295.


Last Updated: 4/4/2014

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