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Found on the left part of the heart, the mitral valve is the link between the atrium and the ventricle. Under normal conditions, this valve - which is a bicuspid valve- is responsible for controlling the movement of the blood between chambers of the heart.
However, sometimes, either both or one of the valve leaflets balloons out - this is known as a prolapse. The result of this valvular prolapse clicking sounds detected via a stethoscope, by a physician. This condition can also result in the valves failing to completely close, causing blood to leak back to the atrium when the ventricle pumps. This backward flow of blood into the atrium results in a sound known as a murmur. The combination of both the 'click' and the 'murmur' has earned mitral valve prolapse the name of 'the click-murmur syndrome'.
Approximately 1 out of every 10 Americans suffer from this normally harmless condition and it is found less often in men. Women suffering from scoliosis and other types of skeletal abnormalities suffer from this condition too.
Signs and Symptoms
People suffering from this condition are usually asymptomatic. This condition is generally discovered quite by accident during routine cardiac examinations.
Palpitations - bursts of a heartbeat that is rapid. A stabbing or shooting chest pain that may last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, that is not caused by exercise. The etiology of this pain is unknown, although it has been suggested that muscle tone changes of the chest wall or the changes in the structure of the bones of the chest may be causing them. However, the expected course of the prolapse is good despite this pain.
Usually detected with the aid of a stethoscope.
In case of frequent palpitations a 24-hour Holter ECG and electrocardiogram may be required.
A 'confirming test' known as an echocardiogram may be ordered by your cardiologist or physician.
How serious a disease is it?
It is asymptomatic and is usually discovered by accident on routine examination with a stethoscope. Although it can be unsettling when discovered, very rarely is this condition a cause for worry. However, there is a very small percentage of people in whom this condition can cause chest pain, palpitations and mitral valve incompetence that is significant enough to warrant medical or surgical intervention.
For a majority of persons who suffer from this condition, life goes on normally and they live to a ripe old age. Lifestyle changes are not even required. It is best just seen as a harmless deviation from the normal.
The risk factor of this disease increases if you suffer from infective endocarditis. As a precautionary measure, the prophylactic usage of antibiotics before any surgical or dental procedure is required. A drug such as a beta adrenergic blocker, which will block the effect of epinephrine, may be prescribed if the condition causes troubling and frequent palpitations.