My own research into many sites, information is pieced together

Also called Barlow's syndrome, floppy mitral valve, myxomatous mitral valve, billowing mitral valve, systolic click-murmur syndrome and prolapsing mitral leaflet syndrome. It is a disorder in which the mitral heart valve billows out and does not close properly, allowing blood to leak (backflow) into the left atrium.

Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is one cause of mitral regurgitation (leakage of blood from insufficient valve closure). It occurs in about 2 out of 1,000 people overall. Mitral valve prolapse is a common syndrome with a wide range of symptoms. Some forms of MVP seem to be hereditary. MVP has been associated with Marfan's syndrome characteristics.

Symptoms

  • Sensation of feeling the heartbeat (palpitations)
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing after exertion
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath when lying flat (orthopnea)

    In most cases there are no or few symptoms, and mitral valve prolapse does not require treatment. There are no restrictions on activity or diet. Hospitalization may be required for diagnosis or treatment of severe symptoms.

    Surgical repair or valve replacement improves symptoms. Surgery may be required if heart function is poor, if symptoms are severe, or if condition deteriorates.

    Antibiotics are prescribed if bacterial infection is present. Antiarrhythmics may be needed to control irregular heart rhythms. Vasodilators reduce the workload of the heart. Digitalis may be used to strengthen the heartbeat and diuretics used to remove excess fluid in the lungs. Analgesics or propranolol may be given for chest pain. Anticoagulants may be used to prevent clot formation if atrial fibrillation is present (atrial fibrillation increases the chances of clot formation).

    The outcome varies depending on underlying conditions. Mitral valve prolapse is usually benign and without symptoms. When symptomatic, it is controllable with medications and may be improved with surgery.

  • One small addition.

    There is, as it happens, one thing that even those with milder cases of Mitral valve prolapse have to put up with:
    Whenever they have any dental work done (even cleanings), they have to take antibiotics as a preventative measure against the (relatively tiny) chance of certain bacteria taking advantage of the prolapse and wreaking havoc they normally wouldn't be able to.
    No, it isn't really a cross to bear or anything, but it is pretty much the only thing keeping those with the more "benign" cases of this disorder aware that they have it at all.

    (Perhaps a better {simpler} way to think of what exactly is happening when the mitral valve "billows out" is that the valve flaps don't quite match in terms of size and fit together wrong, causing them each time they shut to snap back shut again wrong and buckle just a bit, allowing the leakage and making the characteristic "clicking" sound...)

    While it is true that there are generally no restrictions on activity or diet, there are plenty of things a person with MVP can do to reduce and possibly eliminate symptoms.

    The most common symptom, or at least the most recognizable one, is the "fluttery heartbeat" sensation, which is caused by Premature Ventricular Contractions, or PVCs. Some things that have been linked to this are: stress, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, carbohydrates, and lack of sleep. By cutting down on these things, or cutting them out altogether, the PVCs can sometimes be controled. If this doesn't work, beta blockers may be prescribed to help regulate heartbeats.

    Also, people who have been diagnosed with MVP occasionally complain of dehydration, and have said that loading up on fluids has helped to reduce or eliminate symptoms.

    An echocardiogram may be used to diagnose MVP. This is done with the same machines that are used for ultrasounds so that expectant mothers can see their babies. During the echocardiogram, technicians look for thickness of the mitral valve walls, and for signs of blood regurgitation, or backward blood flow.

    Body features that have been associated with MVP include:

    • Low body weight
    • Low blood presure
    • Flat rib cage
    • Straight back
    • Loose joints
    • Long arms, fingers, and toes
    Sources: http://www.webmd.com, http://www.mvpsupport.com

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