What You Need to Know About Mitral Valve Prolapse

Mitral ValveMitral valve prolapse (MVP) is one of the most common conditions involving the heart’s valves. It can range from very mild, causing no symptoms or complications, to a condition severe enough to require surgery.

Q. What is the mitral valve?

A. The mitral valve separates the two chambers of the left side of the heart. Its job is to keep blood flowing in only one direction. In people with MVP, the valve’s shape or size is abnormal. Its two flaps may be too large and fail to close properly, or they may balloon out—allowing blood to leak back into the chamber.

Q. How do I know if I have MVP?

A. The condition is diagnosed when a doctor listens to your heart with a stethoscope, as part of a regular checkup, and hears certain characteristic sounds. A test can confirm that the valve is faulty. While most people don’t have symptoms, occasionally those with MVP have fatigue, shortness of breath, skipping or racing heartbeat, migraine headaches, or chest discomfort.

Q. Can this condition create other health problems?

A. A small percentage of people experience complications or symptoms severe enough to require medication or surgery.

Q. What should I do if I have MVP?

A. The majority of those with MVP are able to live normal, active lives. It’s crucial though to receive ongoing care and talk with your doctor if any symptoms worsen. Overall, doctors recommend the following strategies for those with MVP:

  • Engage in regular exercise
  • Take all medications as your doctor prescribes
  • Quit smoking
  • Be sure to have regular medical checkups

Nora’s Story

New Fairfield resident Nora had heart valve replacement surgery at Danbury Hospital—click here to watch a short video of her story.