What is mitral valve?
The heart has four chambers. The mitral valve controls the flow of blood between the 2 cavities, called the left atrium and left ventricle. Normally, when the heart relaxes between beats, the 2 flaps of the mitral valve open to allow blood flow to pass from the atrium to the ventricle. The fins are usually open only on one side and the blood only flows in one direction.
What is a mitral valve prolapse?
If you have mitral valve prolapse, the mitral valve flaps do not work properly. One of the flaps moves back into the atrium when the heart beats. When this happens, blood can flow in the opposite direction from the ventricle to the atrium.
About 1 in 20 Americans have mitral valve prolapse. Generally, people are born with it. More women have it than men.
What are the symptoms of mitral valve prolapse?
Most people are unaware they have mitral valve prolapse, until a doctor discovers it during a physical exam. It is possible that some people have symptoms that include the following:
- Feeling that your heart is racing or skipping beats.
- Chest pain that occurs from time to time.
- Shortness of breath.
- Anxiety or panic.
How is the mitral valve prolapse treated?
Most people with mitral valve prolapse do not need treatment. Only about 2 in 100 people with this condition have complications. Your doctor will tell you if you need treatment.
Some people with mitral valve prolapse have to limit participation in competitive sports. If the mitral valve prolapse causes chest pain or other symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medications such as beta blockers to improve symptoms. Some people need surgery to fix the valve.
In severe cases of mitral valve prolapse, infection can occur (called bacterial endocarditis) in the valve after surgery or dental procedures. If you have mitral valve prolapse, consult your doctor before undergoing dental procedures (including professional teeth cleaning) or other medical procedures. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics before the procedure to protect against infection.