Mitral Valve Prolapse

What is Mitral Valve Prolapse?

Mitral valve prolapse is a condition in which the valve flaps of the heart’s mitral valve (the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle) do not close smoothly or evenly. Instead, the flaps bulge, or prolapse into the atrium. Mitral valve prolapse is also known as Barlow's syndrome, click-murmur syndrome or floppy valve syndrome.

Baptist Health is known for advanced, superior care for patients with heart problems and the diagnosis, management and treatment of mitral valve disease. The Valve Team at Baptist Health Louisville is dedicated to offering the full range of therapeutic options to patients. Our minimally invasive valve surgeries and interventional procedures have outstanding clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.

You will appreciate timely appointments and respectful attention to your concerns, all in a positive and friendly atmosphere. Here, you have access to the region’s most comprehensive, multidisciplinary team of specialists and innovative therapies, including many available only through specialized clinical trials. In every way, we work to demonstrate the utmost in excellent care to those who trust us with their health.

Mitral Valve Prolapse Signs and Symptoms

Most people who have mitral valve prolapse do not show any symptoms. In some cases, the prolapsed valve may let a small amount of blood leak back into the atrium from the ventricle, causing a heart murmur and other symptoms such as:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Migraines

Mitral Valve Prolapse Diagnosis

To determine if a patient has mitral valve prolapse, the physician will ask questions about family history and symptoms and listen to the patient’s heart with a stethoscope to listen for possible heart murmurs. We use advanced diagnostic procedures and technology to effectively diagnose, inform treatment and carefully monitor the condition. Diagnostic procedures can include:

Angiogram: A thin tube (catheter) is inserted into a blood vessel and dye is injected to make the blood vessel visible during an X-ray. This can show any blood clots or other blood vessel issues.

Echocardiogram: In this test, an ultrasound is done using soundwaves to take moving pictures of the heart’s chambers and valves. 

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A large magnet, radio waves and a computer are used to produce pictures of the heart and blood vessels.

Causes of Mitral Valve Prolapse

Mitral valve prolapse is not usually caused by behaviors or lifestyle factors, though in some cases, the same factors that cause your arteries to lose their elasticity can cause your mitral valve flaps to weaken or wear down and begin prolapsing over long periods of time. These factors include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Stress

 Risk Factors

Most people who are diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse are born with it, and it tends to run in families. It is linked to connective tissue disorders and related conditions such as: 

Inherited disorders: Certain conditions including Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Ebstein's anomaly, Graves' disease and Muscular Dystrophy can increase the risk of mitral valve prolapse.

Scoliosis: Scoliosis has been linked to mitral valve prolapse.


While nothing can be done to prevent the risk factors for mitral valve prolapse, a healthy diet and exercise along with other medications and treatments prescribed by your doctor can help prevent more serious complications. 

Mitral Valve Prolapse Prognosis

Most people with mitral valve prolapse never experience any health problems related to the condition, and only need to be monitored. In the most serious cases, it can cause serious leakage, blood clots and heart arrhythmias that may eventually become life-threatening.

Mitral Valve Prolapse Treatment and Recovery

If you are diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse but have few or no symptoms, your doctor may recommend you see a cardiologist regularly. You may also be directed to have a regular exercise plan, practice techniques for relaxation and stress reduction, and avoid caffeine and other stimulants. Other treatments can include:


If you experience heart palpitations or arrhythmias due to your mitral valve prolapse, your doctor may prescribe a beta-blocker. 


Those showing severe symptoms of severe mitral regurgitation or congestive heart failure due to a prolapsing valve are good candidates for surgery to repair or replace a leaky valve. 


Complications that can occur with mitral valve prolapse include:

Mitral valve regurgitation: When a mitral valve prolapse causes a significant amount of blood to flow back into the atrium instead of traveling to the ventricle like it is supposed to, it is known as mitral valve regurgitation. Over time, this can cause congestive heart failure, as well as cause blood clots that result in heart attack or stroke. 

Infective endocarditis: Those with mitral valve prolapse are at greater risk for infections of the membranes that line the inner walls of the heart chambers and valves. 

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