Mitral Valve Prolapse
Vibhuti N Singh, MD, MPH, FACC, FSCAI
Alan D Forker, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Michael E Zevitz, MD
Mitral Valve Prolapse Overview
In mitral valve prolapse, one or both leaflets of the valve are too large, or the chordae tendinea (the strings attached to the underside of the leaflets, connected to the ventricular wall) are too long (redundant), resulting in uneven closure of the valve during each heartbeat. Because of uneven closure of the leaflets, the valve bulges back, or "prolapses," into the left atrium like a parachute. When this happens, a very small amount of blood may leak through, moving backward from the ventricle to the atrium.
The valve still works well, and the heart pumps normally. Prolapse does not cause damage to the heart over time. Only 2% of people have other structural heart problems along with mitral valve prolapse.
Previously called the most common heart valve abnormality, mitral valve prolapse was thought to have affected 5-20% of the general population, mainly women. Now with newer, wiser echocardiographic criteria, it is thought to affect only 2-3% of the general population, and it is most often diagnosed in people aged 20-40 years.
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