Mitral valve prolapse


Chest | Cardiology | Mitral valve prolapse (Disease)


Description

Mitral valve prolapse (also known as click murmur syndrome and Barlows syndrome) is the most common heart valve abnormality, affecting five to ten percent of the world population. A normal mitral valve consists of two thin leaflets, located between the left atrium and the left ventricle of the heart. Mitral valve leaflets, shaped like parachutes, are attached to the inner wall of the left ventricle by a series of strings called chordae.

In patients with mitral valve prolapse, the mitral apparatus (valve leaflets and chordae) becomes affected by a process called myxomatous degeneration. In myxomatous degeneration, the structural protein collagen forms abnormally and causes thickening, enlargement, and redundancy of the leaflets and chordae. When the ventricles contract, the redundant leaflets prolapse (flop backwards) into the left atrium, sometimes allowing leakage of blood through the valve opening (mitral regurgitation). When severe, mitral regurgitation can lead to heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms. Most patients are totally unaware of the prolapsing of the mitral valve. Others may experience a number of symptoms discussed below.

Most people with mitral valve prolapse have no symptoms, however, those who do commonly complain of symptoms such as fatigue, palpitations, chest pain, anxiety, and migraine headaches. Stroke is a very rare complication of mitral valve prolapse.

Fatigue is the most common complaint, although the reason for fatigue is not understood. Patients with mitral valve prolapse may have imbalances in their autonomic nervous system, which regulates heart rate and breathing. Such imbalances may cause inadequate blood oxygen delivery to the working muscles during exercise, thereby causing fatigue.

Causes and Risk factors

The mitral valve prolapse (MVP) syndrome has a strong hereditary tendency, although the exact cause is unknown. Affected family members are often tall, thin, with long arms and fingers, and straight backs. It is seen most commonly in women from 20 to 40 years old, but also occurs in men.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Doctors may diagnose mitral valve prolapse at any age. The doctor is most likely to detect mitral valve prolapse by listening to the heart using a stethoscope. If a person has mitral valve prolapse, the doctor may hear clicking sounds, which are common in mitral valve prolapse. The doctor may also hear a heart murmur if a person has blood leaking backward through the mitral valve (mitral valve regurgitation). ...