The mitral (MI'tral) valve is between the heart's left atrium (upper, holding chamber) and left ventricle (lower, pumping chamber). The mitral valve has two flaps, or cusps.
What is mitral valve prolapse (MVP)?
In MVP, one or both valve flaps are enlarged, and some of their supporting "strings" may be too long. When the heart pumps (contracts), the mitral valve flaps don't close smoothly or evenly. Instead, part of one or both flaps collapses backward into the left atrium. This sometimes lets a small amount of blood leak backward through the valve. This may cause a heart murmur.
Mitral valve prolapse is also known as click-murmur syndrome, Barlow's syndrome, balloon mitral valve and floppy valve syndrome.
Does mitral valve prolapse need to be treated?
Most people with mitral valve prolapse don't have symptoms, won't have problems and won't need treatment. However, those who have leaky (regurgitant) prolapsing valves are at increased risk of developing an infection of the lining of the heart or heart valve known as endocarditis. In the past, some people with MVP have been given antibiotics before certain dental or surgical procedures to help prevent an infection called bacterial endocarditis (BE). However, the American Heart Association no longer recommends routine antibiotics before dental procedures except for patients at the highest level of risk for BE, such as patients with a prosthetic cardiac valve, patients who have had BE before, or patients with specific types of congenital heart disease. Also, the American Heart Association no longer recommends routine antibiotics to prevent BE in patients undergoing procedures of the gastrointestinal or genitourinary tract.
Medicine may be used in a small number of MVP patients with chest pain, angina pectoris or abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).