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    Heart Valve Defect Common in Patients With Thyroid Disease

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    In previous studies, MVP has been found in otherwise healthy people with autoimmune disorders such as arthralgias (joint pain), alopecia (loss of hair), and Raynaud's syndrome (a condition in which the fingers get cold and turn blue because of decreased blood flow). David S. H. Bell, MD, published a study in 1996 showing an increased incidence of MVP in patients with type 1 diabetes which also has an autoimmune component.

    "I found that 45.1% of patients with type I diabetes had documented mitral valve prolapse," Bell, director of the endocrine clinic at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham, tells WebMD. His literature search showed that 41% of patients with Graves' disease and 41% with Hashimoto's thyroiditis also had MVP.

    However, when Bell evaluated patients with MVP who did not have Graves' disease or Hashimoto's thyroiditis, he found no increase in genetic markers. "If there is an association with autoimmune disease, it's not showing up in the classic genetic markers we have for autoimmune disease," he says.

    Bell tells WebMD he evaluates patients with diabetes for presence of MVP and often uses the MVP diagnosis as criteria for distinguishing between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. He adds that although MVP can be a benign condition, antibiotics are recommended for patients with MVP when undergoing dental work or surgery, therefore, physicians should look carefully for MVP in patients with autoimmune disorders such as diabetes, Graves' disease, and Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

    Vital Information:

    • Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a heart condition in which the mitral valve does not close properly and blood leaks into the left atrium of the heart.
    • MVP occurs in 5 to 15% of the general population under 40 but is much more prevalent among patients who have autoimmune thyroid disease.
    • Although MVP can be a benign condition, doctors should screen patients with autoimmune thyroid disorders because those who have it will need antibiotics during dental work or surgery.
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