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Mitral Valve Prolapse

Mitral valve prolapse is fairly common - more than 2 percent of adults in the U.S. have the disorder. It is a disorder of the heart valve between the left upper chamber and the left lower chamber of the heart. Mitral valve prolapse can produce few or no symptoms and individuals can live without knowing they have mitral valve prolapse. Heart healthy exercise and lifestyle changes are not usually necessary if you have mitral valve prolapse.

In a normal heart, the left atrium contracts and pushes blood through the mitral valve into the left ventricle. The left ventricle contracts and pushes oxygenated blood forward through the aorta and to the rest of the body.

During contraction of the left ventricle, the mitral valve is closed to prevent blood from re-entering the left atrium.

In mitral valve prolapse, the valve bulges back into the atrium when the left ventricle contracts. Having this condition doesn't necessarily mean that the heart doesn't function properly. Sometimes, however, the prolapsed valve allows blood to flow backwards into the atrium. If present, symptoms of mitral valve prolapse include arrhythmia, dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue and chest pain.

Mitral valve prolapse can be 'heard' when your heart is listened to through a stethoscope and is usually diagnosed with an echocardiogram. The biggest concern in mitral valve prolapse is regurgitation, when too much blood is allowed to flow backward through the faulty heart valve. In severe cases, surgery may be required to repair or replace the valve.

Endocarditis is another concern in people with mitral valve prolapse. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the heart and having faulty heart valves increases the risk of developing such an infection.

Treatments

Besides surgery in severe cases, other treatments can help reduce the chances that mitral valve prolapse will cause additional problems. Losing weight and maintaining normal blood pressure are helpful. You may also receive medication to lower blood pressure, thin the blood, or reduce the risk of blood clots. In addition, antibiotics may be given during dental exams to reduce the liklihood of infections.

 



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