Mitral Valve and Mitral Valve Prolapse

Updated:Aug 2,2012

There are four heart valves. The mitral valve is between the heart's left atrium (upper, holding chamber) and left ventricle (lower, pumping chamber). The mitral valve has two flaps, or cusps.

What is mitral valve prolapse (MVP)?
In MVP, the 2 valve flaps of the mitral valve do not close smoothly or evenly.  When the heart pumps (contracts) part of one or both flaps collapses backward into the left atrium. This sometimes lets a small amount of blood leak backward through the valve. This may cause a heart murmur. You can be born with the genetic risk of developing MVP or it can be caused by other health problems, such as some connective tissue diseases.   Mitral valve prolapse is also known as click-murmur syndrome, Barlow's syndrome of floppy valve syndrome.

How is mitral valve prolapse detected?
Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) occurs in 2-3% of the population.  Because patients with MVP often do not experience symptoms, a murmur may be detected during a routine physical examination when your healthcare provider uses a stethoscope to listen to your heart beating.   Whether or not you are having symptoms, if a murmur is detected, it is recommended that you undergo an echocardiogram  which uses ultrasound to evaluate the characteristics of the valve cusps and how much blood may be leaking (regurgitation) from the valve when the heart contracts.  The test results and extent of your symptoms will guide your healthcare provider in determining if further testing and prescribed medications are indicated.

Does mitral valve prolapse need to be treated?
In many instances, having MVP will not impact your health.  Talk with your healthcare provider about how best to prevent complications from MVP based on your level of risk.  If you are prescribed medication, take it as directed.  A serious complication when the mitral valve leaks (regurgitates) is that a significant amount of blood, can cause blood clots to form and  lead to having a stroke or heart attack.  Know the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke

Is there a reason to take antibiotics prior to having dental procedures?

The routine use of antibiotics before having a dental procedure is no longer recommended by the American Heart Association in patients with and without symptoms associated with mitral valve prolapse. 

Order the American Heart Association Brochure: Your Mitral Valve Prolapse Brochure

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