Health A-Z

Mitral Valve Prolapse

Clinical Definition

Mitral valve prolapse is a condition in which one or both of the mitral valve flaps collapse backwards into the left atrium of the heart. As a result of the valve abnormality, a small amount of blood may regurgitate through the valve. Treatment depends on severity and symptoms, but typically ranges from monitoring to surgical valve repair.

In Our Own Words

Mitral valve prolapse is an abnormal valve movement, with one or both of the mitral valves bulging or billowing back into the left atrium, an upper chamber of the heart, during systole, when the left ventricle contracts to pump blood out through the aorta. The job of the mitral valve is to control the one-way flow of blood from the heart’s left atrium to the heart’s left ventricle, the lower chamber that pumps blood to the rest of the body. Symptoms can include a rapid heartbeat, fatigue, dizziness and shortness of breath. Doctors usually turn to echocardiography – a heart test performed by an ultrasound – to diagnose and evaluate the mitral valve.

Those with mitral valve prolapse may or may not have a leaky valve. Most people affected have almost no leak or a mild one, but some do have a leak, regurgitation or defect that requires surgical valve repair. At one time, antibiotics were recommended for patients with mitral valve prolapse to take prior to dental procedures, out of concern for the risk of heart valve infection. Today, most patients with prolapse are considered low-risk, and the recommendation for antibiotics no longer stands.

Symptoms and Side Effects

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