Mitral valve prolapse is a small abnormality of the mitral valve, known also as syndrome of floppy or balloon mitral valve. The mitral valve is located between the left atrium and the left ventricle in the heart.
A healthy mitral valve closes when the heart contracts, when it pumps blood. In mitral valve prolapse, the valve is slightly deformed and is bent backwards, to the left side of the atrium. Prolapse may leak smaller quantity of blood back into the atrium, a condition known as mitral valve regurgitation.
Mitral valve prolapse is a frequent condition, often occurring in young and middle-aged people, and women.
The symptoms of mitral valve prolapse may not appear. There are many persons who do not know they have this condition. If symptoms occur, they appear in intervals. These are:
- Light dizziness
- Severe pain on the left side of the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations (discomforting feeling of irregular and abnormal fast heart beat)
A loose valve may suffer additional damage in case of infection, especially after a dental procedure or surgery of the digestive and urinary tracts.
The cause of mitral valve prolapse is the extra tissue prolapsing into the left atrium of one or both flaps of the mitral valve. This prolapsing is the cause why the mitral valve cannot close tightly.
The factors that increase the risks for mitral valve prolapse are:
- Family history
- Marfan syndrome
- Ebstein’s anomaly
- Graves’ disease
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
The complications of mitral valve prolapse can develop in some cases, although most do not. These can be:
- mitral valve regurgitation
- infectious endocarditis
Prevention of mitral valve prolapse is not possible. Prevention can be made possible in case you develop some of the abovementioned complications, in which case you should consult a doctor and take medication as instructed.