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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.
Sensation of feeling the heartbeat (palpitations)
Difficulty breathing after exertion
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.