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What is mitral valve prolapse (MVP)?

Mitral valve prolapse is a condition in which the valve (called the mitral valve) between the upper chamber (the atrium) and lower chamber (the ventricle) on the left side of the heart bulges into the upper chamber when the heart contracts. The function of the mitral valve is to allow blood flow to occur between these two chambers during contraction of the heart, and to close off blood flow during the relaxation phase of the heart.

Most patients with mitral valve prolapse have no symptoms. Frequently referred to as a female condition, between 25% and 30% of the normal female population experience this condition. In both male and female patients who do experience symptoms with mitral valve prolapse, these may include a nonspecific vague chest discomfort, heart pounding, palpitations, skipped beats, or a feeling of tightness in the chest. This chest discomfort may also be accompanied by symptoms of dizziness, light-headedness, shortness of breath, or a feeling of anxiety. In some extreme cases, the patient may experience chest pain which simulates angina pectoris secondary to coronary artery narrowing and, for some individuals, the discomfort may be a long-term problem.

As with other valvular conditions, the diagnosis of mitral valve prolapse can be made with a study called an echocardiogram. Once the diagnosis is made, the physician will address the symptoms and problems associated with the condition to determine whether it is necessary to treat the patient with medication.

It is important to know that if you have been diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse or any other problem involving the valves of your heart, you should alert your dentist or surgeon to this diagnosis before having any kind of dental or surgical procedure done. It is advisable to have an antibiotic prescribed prior to having a dental or surgical procedure performed.

At this point, it should also be noted that in some individuals there is a neurologic syndrome called neurogenic syncope. In these individuals, for reasons which are not clear, there is an associated tendency towards fatigue, weakness on exertion, and occasionally passing out upon standing or rapid change in body position. The exact mechanism by which mitral valve prolapse causes this problem is not clear, although improved physical conditioning does helps in many patients. However, for some patients, medications must be given in an attempt to raise the blood pressure.


Galichia Medical Group, P.A.
2600 N Woodlawn
Wichita, KS 67220

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