Mitral Valve Prolapse

Mitral valve is located between the left chambers of the heart (left atrium and left ventricle). It is one of the heart’s four valves. It is affected by several types of conditions including mitral valve prolapse.

A perfectly alright or healthy mitral valve closes perfectly because the valve leaflets meet and close tight and thus prevent the blood from flowing back into the left atrium. If the valve becomes weak due to several reasons it may balloon back (Prolapse) into the atrium when ventricle pumps blood into the aorta. The flaps (leaflets) of the valve bulge back and cause this condition.

In many people who suffer from this condition, there are no symptoms. But a prolapsing mitral valve causes the blood to flow back into the atrium. This is known as a leaky valve or regurgitating valve. Some people may not have any leak (regurgitations). In some cases, the severity can range from a leak which is mild or floppy to significant leak. Leaky mitral valve needs treatment or repair.

The treatment for mitral valve disease depends on the severity of the condition and the signs and symptoms associated with it.

In some people, a mitral valve prolapse becomes a lifelong disorder as they never experience any symptoms at all. They know that they have this condition for a long time when their cardiologist informs them about it. Thus, a diagnosis comes as a big surprise to many people who otherwise look healthy.

Symptoms Associated with Mitral Valve Prolapse

Regurgitating valve causes the symptoms if they occur. Symptoms, if present, may vary from person to person, but, in general, the symptoms tend to be mild and manifest gradually over a period of time. Signs and symptoms of mitral valve disease, if present, may include weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations, chest pain and oedema (swelling of the feet and ankles).

When to See a Cardiologist for Mitral Valve Prolapse?

If you have some of the above signs and symptoms, then seek an appointment with your cardiologist. Other heart conditions can also cause the same symptoms – therefore, your cardiologist will diagnose the cause of your symptoms.

If you have already been diagnosed with mitral valve disease, then meet your cardiologist if the symptoms worsen.

Bottom Line

Mitral valve prolapse is common as it affects nearly about 5% to 7% of people including males and females. It is also possible in children, teens and adults. Females are twice as likely to get affected than males.

In the majority of people, there is no leak or mild leak. Therefore, mitral valve prolapse is not a cause for concern in such cases. However, severe cases of mitral valve prolapse need treatment.

Sometimes, the symptoms such as shortness of breath with exercise; rapid heartbeats (fluttering), panic, anxiety, syncope (fainting), tingling in the hands and feet or numbness and dizziness can occur together – which is known as mitral valve prolapse syndrome. Mitral valve regurgitation (moderate to severe) can lead to weakness in the muscles of the heart over a period of time – which eventually leads to congestive heart failure.