Faulty heart valve bulges with each heartbeat

As blood flows from the left atrium to the left ventricle, the mitral valve “flaps” come together with each heartbeat, controlling the flow of blood from atrium to ventricle. If the flaps are damaged or malformed, one flap or both may bulge into the atrium as the heart beats. This bulge is called a prolapse. Mitral valve prolapse may also be referred to as click-murmur syndrome, Barlow’s syndrome or floppy valve syndrome.

Problems associated with mitral valve prolapse

Many people who have this condition may have it throughout their lives with no symptoms or need for treatment. Others, however, may have mitral valve prolapse that causes blood to flow back into the atrium, a condition called mitral valve regurgitation. With each regurgitation, the heart has to work harder, which over time may lead to heart failure. The excess blood in the atrium may also lead to blood clots, which can cause stroke or heart attack.

Mitral valve regurgitation may also cause symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations and fatigue. Some people also experience:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Feelings of anxiety

If you have symptoms that are concerning you, be sure to talk to your doctor. Your doctor will perform a complete physical exam and review of your medical history, and may recommend certain tests, such as an echocardiogram, MRI or angiogram.

Often no treatment is needed for mitral valve prolapse. If your condition worsens, however, you may need surgery to repair the valve along with medication to help slow your heart rate.

To schedule an appointment with a Lankenau Heart Institute specialist, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.