Is Mitral Valve Prolapse A Serious Condition?

Mitral valve prolapse is the condition in which the mitral valve fails to completely close the connection of left auricle and ventricle. This leads to mitral regurgitation and may cause complications.

Is Mitral Valve Prolapse A Serious Condition?

Generally, mitral valve prolapse does not result in serious complications and the treatment strategy adopted is regular monitoring and followup. But in a few cases, if left untreated, may lead to serious and fatal complications. Various complications associated are atrial fibrillation, heart failure, and endocarditis.

Mitral valve prolapses result in the backflow of the blood from ventricle to the atrium. This backflow is very less and the patient either experience very mild symptoms or does not have any symptoms. However, in some patients’ mitral valve prolapse results in the following complications:

Mitral Regurgitation. Also known as mitral insufficiency or mitral incompetence, the blood flows backward due to improper closing of the mitral valve. In severe conditions, when a lot of blood flows backward, the flow of the blood gets hampered inside the heart as well as to other body parts. This leads to low energy, fatigue and shortness of breath.

Heart Failure. Mitral valve prolapse may also lead to heart failure. This is due to the fact that prolonged mitral regurgitation leads to weakening of the heart muscles and may cause congestive heart failure.

Infective Endocarditis. Patients with mitral valve prolapse are at higher risk of developing infective endocarditis. The risk of infective carditis is increased by 3-5 times in patients with mitral valve prolapse. Infective endocarditis is characterized by the presence of infection in heart lining and valves.

Atrial Fibrillation. Mitral valve prolapse can also result in atrial fibrillation along with thromboembolism. Mitral valve causes chronic mitral regurgitation which results in dilation of the left auricle. This dilation results in atrial fibrillation.

Mitral Valve

Valves are present in the heart to allow for unidirectional flow. These valves prevent the blood in the heart to back-flow. Mitral valve is known as the bicuspid valve or left atrioventricular valve. The structure of this valve comprises two flaps and is present between the left atrium and left ventricle. The valve is opened during diastole when the left atrium contracts and closes during the process of systole when the left ventricle contracts. The mechanism which is involved in the closing and opening of the valve is the pressure gradient. When the pressure is applied from the atrium, the valve opens and when the pressure is applied from the ventricle, the valve closes.

Mitral Valve Prolapse

In normal conditions, the mortal valve completely closes during the contraction of ventricles. However, due to some abnormalities, the mortal valve fails to close properly leading to mitral valve collapse. Rather than completely attached to each other during systole, the mitral valve bulge inside the atrium leading to a bi-directional flow of the blood. This condition is also known as Barlow’s syndrome or Floppy valve syndrome. The murmuring sound is heard when the contraction takes place in ventricles due to the slight leak of blood from the ventricles to left auricle. The patient suffering from mitral valve prolapse either has very mild symptoms or does not have any symptom at all. The general symptoms experienced are fatigue, shortness of breath, murmuring sound, dizziness, and cough. Mitral valve prolapse is one of the general causes of mitral regurgitation.

Mitral valve prolapse is caused due to stretching mitral valves which fail to close the connection between left auricle and left ventricle. Other causes of mitral valve include connective tissue diseases. Mitral valve prolapse can also be congenital. Mitral valve prolapse can be diagnosed with echocardiography, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cardiac Catheterization, and Radionuclide scans. Mitral valve prolapse does not cause any complication in most of the patients and there is no effect on the routine life of the patients. In some patients, mitral valve leads to complication, which requires treatment. The treatment strategy includes heart surgery, endocarditis prevention, monitoring the cardiac health of the patients and regular follow-up.

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