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.
(See also Overview of Heart Valve Disorders Overview of Heart Valve Disorders Heart valves regulate the flow of blood through the heart's four chambers—two small, round upper chambers (atria) and two larger, cone-shaped lower chambers (ventricles). Each ventricle has... read more and the video .)
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. Disorders directly affecting the mitral valve and heart attack are the most... read more ).
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 ), or weak tissue ruptures.
Causes of Mitral Valve Prolapse
The cause is usually excessive lengthening of the valve tissue due to a weakness in the tissue of the valve (myxomatous degeneration). Myxomatous degeneration is genetic. Other disorders that seem to increase the risk of mitral valve prolapse include rheumatic heart disease Rheumatic Fever Rheumatic fever is inflammation of the joints, heart, skin, and nervous system, resulting from a complication of untreated streptococcal infection of the throat. Rheumatic fever is a reaction... read more , Marfan syndrome Marfan Syndrome Marfan syndrome is a rare hereditary disorder of connective tissue, resulting in abnormalities of the eyes, bones, heart, blood vessels, lungs, and central nervous system. This syndrome is caused... read more , and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes Ehlers-Danlos syndromes are rare hereditary disorders of connective tissue that result in unusually flexible joints, very elastic skin, and fragile tissues. These syndromes are caused by a defect... read more .
Symptoms of Mitral Valve Prolapse
Most people with mitral valve prolapse have no symptoms. Others have symptoms that are difficult to explain solely on the basis of the valve's mechanical problem. 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 Mitral Valve Prolapse
Doctors often 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.
Echocardiography Echocardiography and Other Ultrasound Procedures Ultrasonography is a type of medical imaging that uses high-frequency (ultrasound) waves to produce a moving image of internal organs and other tissues. Echocardiography is ultrasonography of... read more enables doctors to view the prolapse and determine the severity of regurgitation if present.
Treatment of Mitral Valve Prolapse
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.
Prognosis for Mitral Valve Prolapse
Mitral valve prolapse is usually benign, but severe myxomatous degeneration of the valve can lead to mitral regurgitation Mitral Regurgitation Mitral regurgitation is leakage of blood backward through the mitral valve each time the left ventricle contracts. Disorders directly affecting the mitral valve and heart attack are the most... read more . When mitral regurgitation becomes severe, the risk of enlargement of the left atrium or left ventricle, abnormal heart rhythms (eg, atrial fibrillation Atrial Fibrillation and Atrial Flutter Atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter are very fast electrical discharge patterns that make the atria (upper chambers of the heart) contract very rapidly, with some of the electrical impulses... read more ), infection of the valve (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 ), stroke Overview of Stroke A stroke occurs when an artery to the brain becomes blocked or ruptures, resulting in death of an area of brain tissue due to loss of its blood supply (cerebral infarction). Symptoms occur suddenly... read more , and death increase, as does the need for valve replacement. Although men are less likely to have mitral valve prolapse, they are more likely to progress to severe mitral regurgitation.
The following English-language resource may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.
American Heart Association: Heart Valve Disease: Provides comprehensive information on diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the heart valves