Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
What is the mitral valve?
The mitral valve controls the flow of blood
between two chambers (or "rooms") of your heart, called the left atrium and the
left ventricle. Normally, blood flows only from the atrium to the ventricle.
When the heart relaxes in between beats, the two flaps of the mitral valve swing
open to let blood flow from the atrium to the ventricle. The flaps normally open
only one way. (See the pictures below.)
What is mitral valve prolapse?
If you have mitral valve prolapse, the flaps of
the valve don't work well. One of the flaps moves back into the atrium when the
heart beats. This can let blood flow from the ventricle back into the atrium.
About 1 in 20 Americans has mitral valve
prolapse. People are usually born with it. More women have it than men.
How do I know that I have mitral
Sometimes people with mitral valve prolapse have
symptoms that go along with this condition. Here are some of these symptoms:
- Feeling like your heart is racing or is skipping
- Chest pain that comes now and then
- Shortness of breath
- Anxiety or panic
Your doctor can find mitral
valve prolapse during a regular exam. When listening to your heart with a
stethoscope, your doctor may hear a clicking sound. The flap makes the click. If
blood is flowing back into the atrium, your doctor will hear a "whooshing"
sound. This sound is called a murmur.
To find out how well your valve is working, your
doctor may have you get an echocardiogram. The echocardiogram is a special
picture of your heart that shows your valve as the blood flows through it. This
can help your doctor decide if you need treatment.
How is mitral valve prolapse
Most people with mitral valve prolapse don't
need any treatment. In fact, this condition usually has no effect on your
health. About 2 of every 100 people with this condition have complications. If
your valve is too leaky or if you are having lots of symptoms you may need
surgery to fix the valve. You may also have to limit your participation in
competitive sports. Ask your doctor if you are in this group.
If your mitral valve prolapse causes chest pain
or other symptoms, your doctor might prescribe medicines such as beta blockers
to make your symptoms better. Some people get an infection in the leaky valve
when they have surgery or dental work. You might need to take antibiotics before
surgery or dental work to prevent this infection. Remind your dentists and
doctors that you have mitral valve prolapse so that you can get a prescription
for antibiotics before you have surgery or dental work.