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Heart Disease Health Center

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Mitral Valve Prolapse - Topic Overview

What is mitral valve prolapse?

Your mitral valve controls blood flow on the left side of your heart. The valve opens and closes with each heartbeat. It works like a one-way gate, letting blood flow from your upper heart chamber to your lower chamber.

When you have mitral valve prolapse (MVP), the valve closes after blood flows through. Blood flows normally through the valve. But the valve bulges backward a little. It looks like a tiny parachute or balloon as it bulges.

Is mitral valve prolapse a serious heart problem?

No. Mitral valve prolapse is not dangerous. It usually does not damage your heart. You will probably not need treatment. You can live a normal, healthy life.

Mitral valve prolapse raises your risk of having a problem called mitral valve regurgitation. This problem happens if the valve does not close tightly enough and blood leaks back (regurgitates) into the upper chamber of the heart. The heart then has to work harder to pump this extra blood.

Is mitral valve prolapse treated?

Most people who have mitral valve prolapse do not need treatment for it. A heart-healthy lifestyle and regular exercise are recommended for most people.

What are the symptoms?

Most people do not have any symptoms. You may not even know you have MVP until a doctor hears a "clicking" sound or a murmur when listening to your heart. Your doctor may want you to have a test called an echocardiogram to check for mitral valve prolapse.

What causes mitral valve prolapse?

Mitral valve prolapse is caused by a physical change in the valve. Physical changes such as thickening and abnormal shapes cause most of the cases of MVP.

What causes these physical changes is not known. A valve problem may be passed down through family members.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: August 01, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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