How is Mitral Valve Prolapse Diagnosed?

A mitral valve prolapse is also known as “click murmur syndrome.” It occurs when the mitral valve leaflets, the flaps that are in between the left atrium and ventricle of the heart, are enlarged. Instead of closing tightly, the malformed mitral valve flops back into the atrium.

In some cases, the mitral valve prolapse allows blood to leak from the ventricle back into the atrium. When this relatively common heart defect (affecting between 5-10 percent of the population worldwide) becomes severe enough, it can cause heart failure.

Diagnosing Mitral Valve Prolapse

A doctor may suspect mitral valve prolapse if he or she hears a clicking sound after the ventricle contracts while examining a patient with a stethoscope. The doctor will also be listening for a “whooshing” sound after the clicking sound.

When mitral valve prolapse is suspected, an echocardiography, or ultrasound of the heart, is usually ordered. The images generated during the test can give doctors valuable information about the severity of the prolapse and whether blood is leaking back into the atrium. The test is also used to provide doctors with valuable information about whether the heart muscle is functioning normally in the circumstances.

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