Mitral Valve Prolapse
(MVP; Floppy Valve Syndrome; Barlow's Syndrome; Click-Murmur Syndrome)
Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a common, usually benign
heart disorder. The mitral valve controls blood flow
between the upper (atrium) and lower (ventricle)
chambers on the left side of the heart. Normally, blood
should only flow in one direction, from the upper
chamber into the lower chamber. In MVP, the valve flaps
don’t work properly; part of the valve balloons into the
atrium, which may be associated with blood flowing in
the wrong direction, or leaking back into the atrium.
Prolapsed Mitral Valve
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In most cases, the cause of MVP is unknown. In some
cases, it appears to be an inherited genetic condition.
Rarely, MVP may be caused by:
Coronary heart disease
Atrial septal defects
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of
getting a disease or condition.
Family history of mitral valve prolapse
Age: 14 to 30
Thin chest diameter
Low body weight
Low blood pressure
Chest wall deformities
People with mitral valve prolapse often have no symptoms
at all. If symptoms do occur, however, they may include
one or more of the following:
Irregular heart beat
Panic attacks or anxiety
Rapid heartbeat (palpitations)
Sensation of missed heartbeats
Shortness of breath
Intestinal problems (such as irritable bowel
Mitral valve prolapse can be heard through a
stethoscope. A small blood leakage will sound like a
murmur. When the mitral valve balloons backward, it may
produce a clicking sound. Both murmurs and clicks are
telltale signs of MVP. An echocardiogram can confirm the
diagnosis. You may also be asked to wear a Holter
monitor for a day or two to record the electrical
activity of your heart continuously (EKG).
In most cases, no treatment is necessary. Although no
longer routinely recommended, you may need to take
antibiotics prior to some dental and medical procedures.
This is to prevent infections. Ask your doctor if you
will need to take antibiotics. If
symptoms include chest pain, anxiety, or panic attacks,
a beta-blocker medication can be prescribed. Ask your
doctor whether you may continue to participate in your
usual athletic activities. In very rare cases, the blood
leakage may become severe. In these few cases, the
mitral valve may need to be surgically repaired or
There are no guidelines for preventing MVP of unknown or
You may be able to prevent symptoms, however, through
certain lifestyle changes:
Limit your intake of caffeine.
Avoid medications (such as decongestants) that
speed up your heart rate.
Exercise regularly, following your doctor's
American Heart Association http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/
National Library of Medicine http://www.nlm.nih.gov/
Canadian Cardiovascular Society http://www.ccs.ca/index.php/en/
Canadian Family Physician http://www.cfpc.ca/
American Dental Association. Antibiotic prophylaxis. American Dental
Association website. Available at: http://www.ada.org/2157.aspx.
Accessed August 30, 2010.
American Heart Association. New guidelines regarding antibiotics to
prevent infective endocarditis. American Heart Association website.
Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/. Accessed August 30, 2010.
American Heart Association website. Available at:
http://www.americanheart.org/. Accessed July 17, 2009.
Mitral valve prolapse. Mayo Clinic website. Available at:
June 2009. Accessed July 17, 2009.
National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute website. Available at:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/. Accessed July 17, 2009.
Reviewer: Michael J. Fucci, DO
Review Date: 09/2012
Update Date: 00/92/2012