Mitral Valve Prolapse

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Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a common benign heart disorder. The mitral valve controls blood flow between the upper and lower chambers on the left side of the heart. Normally, blood should only flow from the upper chamber into the lower chamber.

In MVP, the valve flaps don’t work properly. Part of the valve balloons into the atrium, which may be associated with blood flowing in the wrong direction or leaking back into the atrium. The cause of MVP is unknown.

Are You at Risk?

Factors that may increase your chance of getting mitral valve prolapse include:

  • Family history of mitral valve prolapse
  • Female gender
  • Age: 14 to 30
  • Scoliosis
  • Thin chest diameter
  • Low body weight
  • Low blood pressure
  • Chest wall deformities
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Grave’s disease
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
  • Ebstein's anomaly
Mitral Valve Prolapse
Mitral Valve Prolapse Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Symptoms of MVP

People with mitral valve prolapse often don't have symptoms. If symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Panic attacks or anxiety
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness

Diagnosing MVP

Mitral valve prolapse can be heard through a stethoscope. A small blood leakage will sound like a murmur. When the mitral valve balloons backward, it may produce a clicking sound. An echocardiogram can confirm the diagnosis. You may also be asked to wear a Holter monitor for a day or two to record the electrical activity of your heart.

MVP Treatment Options

In most cases, no treatment is necessary. Although you may need to take antibiotics before some dental and medical procedures to prevent infections.

Medication may be used to ease symptoms like chest pain, anxiety or panic attacks. Ask your doctor whether you may continue to participate in your usual physical activities.

In very rare cases, the blood leakage may become severe and you may need a mitral valve repair or replacement.

Prevent MVP

You may be able to prevent symptoms, through certain lifestyle changes:

  • Limit your caffeine intake.
  • Avoid medications that speed up your heart rate, including decongestants.
  • Exercise regularly, following your doctor's recommendations.


Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.