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Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) 

Introduction
Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) occurs when the valve between the heart's upper and lower chambers do not open and close properly.  MVP is also referred to as Barlow’s syndrome, floppy mitral valve, billowing mitral valve, and systolic click-murmur syndrome.  MVP can be heard as a heart murmur and is a result of the backflow of blood.  MVP may or may not cause symptoms.  It may not require treatment or may be treated with medications and surgery.

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Anatomy
Your heart is divided into four sections called chambers.  The chambers are separated by the septum, a thick muscle wall.  The two top chambers are called atria, and they receive blood coming into the heart.  The two bottom chambers are called ventricles, and they send blood out from the heart.
 
Your heart contains two pumping systems, one on its left side and one on its right side.  The left-sided pumping system consists of the left atrium and the left ventricle.  The mitral valve regulates blood flow between the left atrium and left ventricle.  Your left atrium receives blood that contains oxygen, which comes from your lungs.  Whenever you inhale, your lungs move oxygen into your blood.  The oxygenated blood moves from the left atrium to the left ventricle.  The mitral valve has two flaps that keep blood from back flowing.  The left ventricle sends the oxygenated blood out from your heart to circulate throughout your body.

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Causes
Mitral valve prolapse occurs when the mitral valve does not open and close properly.  The valve's flaps may collapse into the atrium, allowing the backflow of blood.  MVP can be an inherited condition.  It may occur if a person is born with a hole in the septum or certain chest wall deformities.  It is associated with Graves’ disease and Marfan’s syndrome.

 

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Symptoms
MVP may not cause any symptoms or symptoms may develop slowly.  It may cause heart palpitations, abnormal heart rhythms, or chest pain.  You may feel tired and cough.  You may have difficulty breathing after activity or when lying down.

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Diagnosis
Your doctor can begin to diagnose MVP by reviewing your medical history and conducting a physical examination and some tests.  Your doctor will use a stethoscope to listen to your heart to hear if you have a heart murmur.  There are several tests that can be used to diagnose mitral valve prolapse.

Your doctor may order a chest X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI), or computed tomography (CT) scan to view an image of your heart.  An electrocardiogram (ECG) is used to record your heart’s electrical activity and detect abnormal heart rhythms.  An echocardiogram uses sound waves to produce an image of the heart on a monitor.  Doppler ultrasound also uses sound waves and can use an enhanced color system to view the heart as it is beating.  Cardiac catheterization involves inserting a long narrow tube through a blood vessel into the heart to see how it is working. 

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Treatment
In most cases, treatment is not necessary for mitral valve prolapse.  In severe cases, surgery may be used to correct or replace the valves.  Medications may be used to treat symptoms or a leaky valve.  Prior to surgery or dental work, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.

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Prevention
Mitral valve prolapse usually cannot be prevented.  You should tell your dentist and health care providers that you have mitral valve prolapse.  Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics before dental work or surgery to prevent infection.

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Am I at Risk
You may be at risk for MVP if other members of your family have the condition because it can be inherited.  People that are born with a hole in their septum or chest wall deformities may also be at risk.  People with Marfan’s syndrome or Graves Disease may have an increased risk for developing MVP.

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Complications
In some cases, irregular heartbeats associated with mitral valve prolapse can be deadly.  Your doctor will explain the severity of your condition with you.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.