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Human heart is made up of four chambers, two auricles and two ventricles. An atrium is separated from a ventricle by the presence of a heart valve. The left side of the heart encompassing the left auricle and the left ventricle is separated by a valve known as "Mitral valve". The left atrioventricular valve or the mitral valve has two cusps or leaflets and hence, is also known as a bicuspid valve. When functioning normally, the mitral valve opens due to increased pressure in left atrium during a diastole, resulting in blood flow from the left atrium to the left ventricle. It closes at the end of the atrial contraction so that blood does not flow back into the auricle.

Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a myxomatous disease associated with the mitral valve. There are several causes behind it, and it is a very common disease with almost 3-5% of the population being affected by it. The leaflets of the valve are extremely flexible and stretchy, so that they can easily open and close during a heartbeat cycle. When a person has mitral valve prolapse, there is a problem with proper opening and closing of the valve. This disease is observed in children, teens as well as adults, with females showing greater incidence than males. This disease may not be a cause of concern if there is no regurgitation or leakage of blood from the valve. Mostly, people show no leakage or very mild leakage. When the regurgitation is severe, medical treatment is required.

MVP Symptoms

In many cases, there are no visible symptoms related to MVP. The severity of the disease cannot be co-related with its symptoms. Symptoms that can be seen are;
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased heart rate
  • Arrhythmia or irregularity of heartbeat
Treatment Options

In most cases of MVP, no treatment is required because there are no symptoms and the condition is not severe enough to seek medical treatment. Symptoms do not indicate the need for medical treatment. It all depends upon the severity of the disease and associated complications like regurgitation and arrhythmia. Many people do not require frequent visits to the doctor. Only people with significant complications need to go to the doctor for regular check-ups. Doctors aim at preventing arrhythmia, endocarditis and other complications that may arise in severe cases. The mitral valve is repaired or replaced if the need be, depending upon the condition. Treatment for mitral valve prolapse can be done using drug therapy, surgery or both.

Drug Therapy
Medications are prescribed to treat MVP related chest pain, discomfort, regurgitation and arrhythmias. The doctor may prescribe -
  • Vasodialators - Help in dilating the blood vessels and lower the workload of the heart.
  • Beta blockers - Used to treat arrhythmia and lower the increased heart rate.
  • Anticoagulants - Also known as blood thinning agents, help in preventing blood clots that may arise if a person is suffering from atrial fibrillation.
  • Diuretics - Help in removing excess water from the lungs.
Surgery
Surgery is conducted either to repair or replace the mitral valve. Both the procedures are different.
  • Mitral Valve Repair - When repairing the mitral valve, doctors preserve the original valve in the body and make changes to prevent the leakage of blood. The doctor may also conduct annuloplasty to tighten the ring around the annulus or the valve.
  • Mitral Valve Replacement - Valve replacement is carried out when it cannot be repaired due to some reason. In such cases, the original valve is replaced by an artificial valve. The artificial valve can be a mechanical valve or a tissue valve. A mechanical valve has a long life, but it comes with a compulsion of using anticoagulants to avoid the formation of blood clots that lead to stroke. A tissue valve has no such compulsion however, it needs replacement after some time.
Earlier doctors used to prescribe antibiotics to patients prior to dental or surgical procedure in order to prevent endocarditis. However, the American Heart Association has suggested that there is no need of antibiotics in most of the cases of MVP. Pregnant women with MVP have no risk of complications, however, doctors may give antibiotic treatment in case of any infection that may affect the mitral valve. Patients with mitral valve prolapse do not have any restrictions on their diet, but are asked to limit their caffeine and alcohol intake and maintain normal fluid intake if, heart irregularities are present. Since most of the people do not need any treatment for this condition, there is no need to worry if you show any symptoms pertaining to it. A physician's consultation will help you in identifying the severity of the disease and treatment required, if any.