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Heart Health Center

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Mitral Valve Prolapse

Diagnosis of Mitral Valve Prolapse

A doctor may suspect mitral valve prolapse after listening to someone's heart with a stethoscope. The abnormal movement of the mitral valve can make a distinct sound, called a "click." If mitral regurgitation is also present, a doctor may hear a heart murmur caused by the backward flow of blood.

Definite diagnosis of mitral valve prolapse requires an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound of the heart. A doctor can watch the abnormal valve movement on a video of the beating heart. Mitral regurgitation, if present, will also be seen with an echocardiogram.

Treatment of Mitral Valve Prolapse

Mitral valve prolapse causes no problems for most people, so treatment is usually not needed.

People who develop severe mitral regurgitation due to mitral valve prolapse often can benefit from surgery to repair or replace the leaky valve. For people with symptoms of congestive heart failure caused by mitral valve prolapse with mitral regurgitation, surgery is usually the best treatment.

If no mitral regurgitation is present on echocardiogram, symptoms of mitral valve prolapse rarely pose any risk. The best treatment for each person may vary, but can include:

  • Exercise
  • Pain relievers
  • Relaxation and stress reduction techniques
  • Avoidance of caffeine and other stimulants

Beta-blockers, which are medications to slow the heart rate, may be helpful in people who have episodes of palpitations with a rapid heartbeat, known as tachycardia, with mitral valve prolapse.

Follow-Up of Mitral Valve Prolapse

Most people with mitral valve prolapse never experience health problems related to the condition. Experts recommend that people with mitral valve prolapse see a doctor on a regular basis. That way, any developing problems can be found early:

  • Most people with mitral valve proplapse should see a cardiologist every 2 to 3 years. They do not need regular echocardiograms.
  • People with mitral valve prolapse and moderate or severe mitral regurgitation should see a doctor and undergo echocardiography every 6 to 12 months.
  • Echocardiography and a doctor's visit are also recommended if a person develops new symptoms, or if the symptoms change.

In the past, doctors recommended that people with mitral valve prolapse take antibiotics before medical or dental procedures to prevent infection of the heart valve, known as endocarditis. The American Heart Association has determined that taking antibiotics before procedures is not helpful for people with mitral valve prolapse and is no longer recommended.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on November 11, 2013
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