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Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP)

By

Guy P. Armstrong

, MD, North Shore Hospital, Auckland

Last full review/revision Aug 2021| Content last modified Aug 2021
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Mitral valve prolapse is a disorder in which the valve flaps (cusps) bulge into the left atrium when the left ventricle contracts, sometimes allowing leakage (regurgitation) of blood into the atrium.

  • Mitral valve prolapse is sometimes caused by weakness in the tissue of the valve.

  • Most people have no symptoms, but some people have chest pain, a rapid pulse, awareness of heartbeats, migraine headaches, fatigue, and dizziness.

  • Doctors make the diagnosis after hearing a characteristic clicking sound through a stethoscope placed over the heart and confirm the diagnosis with echocardiography.

  • Most people do not need treatment.

The mitral valve is in the opening between the left atrium and the left ventricle. The mitral valve opens to allow blood from the left atrium to fill the left ventricle and closes as the left ventricle contracts to pump blood into the aorta. Prolapse means that the valve flaps bulge back into the left atrium when the left ventricle contracts. With prolapse, blood sometimes leaks (regurgitates) back into the atrium (see also Mitral Regurgitation Mitral Regurgitation Mitral regurgitation is leakage of blood backward through the mitral valve each time the left ventricle contracts. Genetic weakness of the mitral valve tissue (myxomatous degeneration) and heart... read more Mitral Regurgitation ).

About 1 to 3% of people have mitral valve prolapse. It causes serious heart problems only if the regurgitation becomes severe, infection of the valve occurs (infective endocarditis Infective Endocarditis Infective endocarditis is an infection of the lining of the heart (endocardium) and usually also of the heart valves. Infective endocarditis occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream and travel... read more Infective Endocarditis ), or weak tissue ruptures.

Causes of MVP

Symptoms of MVP

Most people with mitral valve prolapse have no symptoms. Others have symptoms that are difficult to explain on the basis of the mechanical problem alone. These symptoms include chest pain, a rapid pulse, palpitations (awareness of heartbeats), migraine headaches, fatigue, and dizziness. In some people, blood pressure may fall below normal when they stand up (a disorder called orthostatic hypotension).

Diagnosis of MVP

  • Physical examination

  • Echocardiography

Doctors diagnose mitral valve prolapse after hearing the characteristic clicking sound through a stethoscope. Regurgitation is diagnosed if a murmur is heard when the left ventricle contracts.

Treatment of MVP

  • Sometimes beta-blockers

Most people with mitral valve prolapse do not need treatment. If the heart is beating too fast, a beta-blocker may be taken to slow the heart rate and to reduce palpitations and other symptoms.

More Information

The following is an English-language resource that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
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