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Mitral valve prolapse

  • Definition

    Mitral valve prolapse is a heart problem in which the valve that separates the upper and lower chambers of the left side of the heart does not close properly.


    Alternative Names

    Barlow syndrome; Floppy mitral valve; Myxomatous mitral valve; Billowing mitral valve; Systolic click-murmur syndrome; Prolapsing mitral leaflet syndrome


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    The mitral valve helps blood on the left side of the heart flow in one direction. It closes to keep blood from moving backwards when the heart beats (contracts).

    Mitral valve prolapse is the term used when the valve does not close properly. It can be caused by many different things. In most cases, it is harmless and patients usually do not know they have the problem. As much as 10% of the population has some minor, insignificant form of mitral valve prolapse, but it does not generally affect their lifestyle.

    In a small number of cases, the prolapse can cause blood to leak backwards. This is called mitral regurgitation.

    Mitral valves that are structurally abnormal can raise the risk for bacterial infection.

    Some forms of mitral valve prolapse seem to be passed down through families (inherited). Mitral valve prolapse has been associated with Graves disease.

    Mitral valve prolapse often affects thin women who may have minor chest wall deformities, scoliosis, or other disorders.

    Mitral valve prolapse is associated with some connective tissue disorders, especially Marfan syndrome. Other conditions include:

    • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome
    • Osteogenesis imperfecta
    • Polycystic kidney disease