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Mitral valve prolapse


Definition:

Mitral valve prolapse is a heart problem involving the mitral valve, which separates the upper and lower chambers of the left side of the heart. In this condition, the valve does not close normally.

Alternative Names:

Barlow syndrome; Floppy mitral valve; Myxomatous mitral valve; Billowing mitral valve; Systolic click-murmur syndrome; Prolapsing mitral leaflet syndrome

Symptoms:

Many patients with mitral valve prolapse do not have symptoms. The group of symptoms found in patients with mitral valve prolapse is called "mitral valve prolapse syndrome," and includes:

  • Chest pain (not caused by coronary artery disease or a heart attack)
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Panic attacks
  • Sensation of feeling the heart beat (palpitations)
  • Shortness of breath with activity or when lying flat (orthopnea)

When mitral regurgitation occurs, symptoms may be related to this leaking.

Exams and Tests:

The doctor will perform a physical exam and use a stethoscope to listen to your heart and lungs. The doctor may feel a thrill (vibration) over the heart, and hear a heart murmur ("midsystolic click"). The murmur gets longer and louder when you stand up.

Blood pressure is most often normal.

Echocardiogram is the most common test used to diagnose mitral valve prolapse. The following tests may also be used to diagnose mitral valve prolapse or a leaky mitral valve:

  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Chest x-ray
  • CT scan of the chest
  • ECG (may show arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation)
  • MRI of the heart
Treatment:

Most of the time, there are few or no symptoms and treatment is not needed.

In the past, most people with heart valve problems were given antibiotics before dental work or procedures such as colonoscopy to prevent an infection in the heart. However, antibiotics are now used much less often. Check with your health care provider to see if you need antibiotics.

There are many heart medicines that may be used to control this condition. You may need surgery to repair or replace your mitral valve if it becomes leaky (regurgitation). However, this is not common. You may need mitral valve repair or replacement if:

  • Your symptoms get worse
  • The left ventricle of your heart is enlarged
  • Your heart function gets worse
Outlook (Prognosis):

Most of the time, mitral valve prolapse is harmless and does not cause symptoms. Symptoms that do occur can be treated and controlled with medicine or surgery.

Some abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias) in people with mitral valve prolapse can be life threatening. If the valve leakage becomes severe, your outlook may be similar to that of people who have mitral regurgitation from any other cause.

When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Call your health care provider if you have:

  • Chest discomfort, palpitations, or fainting spells that get worse
  • Long-term illnesses with fevers
References:

Nishimura. RA, Otto CM, Bownow RO et al. 2014 AHA/ACC Guideline for the Management of Patients With Valvular Heart Disease: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2014;148(1):e1-e132.

Carabello BA. Valvular heart disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 75.

Otto CM, Bonow RO. Valvular heart disease. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. St. Louis, MO: WB Saunders; 2011:chap 66.


Review Date: 5/13/2014
Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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