What are the mitral valve prolapse causes and risk factors?
According to medical professionals, there are a number of known mitral valve prolapse causes and risk factors, starting with age and gender.
While the mitral prolapse condition affects women and men of all ages, it appears to be more prevalent in women aged 20 to 40. Men are at greater risk of complications, though, particularly those over 50. Race and ethnicity may be risk factors.
Though incidences of MVP are difficult to calculate, it is estimated that between two and eight percent of the global population are living with mitral valve prolapse. This makes Barlow’s Syndrome one of the most common heart valve disorders.
Are there any other mitral valve prolapse risk factors?
Yes. Mitral valve prolapse tends to be hereditary, passing down to offspring. There is a tendency for affected family members to be tall and have a low body mass index and straight backs. They normally also have long fingers, arm spans greater than their height, and hyper-mobile joints.
The reasons for this particular body type prevalence among sufferers are not clear. Connective tissue disorders seem to be behind the physical similarities. People with Marfan Syndrome, for example, will typically have these features and are much more inclined to have mitral valve prolapse.
MVP also occurs in greater frequency in those with:
- Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
- Osteogenesis Imperfecta
- Pseudoxanthoma Elasticum
- Pectus Excavatum
- Graves’ Disease
- Adult Polycystic Kidney Disease
- Ebstein’s Anomaly
- Large Atrial Septal Defect
- Collagen Vascular Disease
- Certain types of Muscular Dystrophy (X-linked Duchenne), as well as hypotension, coronary artery disease, and tricuspid valve prolapse have also been linked to MVP.
What causes mitral valve prolapse?
The primary cause is myxomatous degeneration. This term refers to the enlargement, thickening, and redundancy of one or more mitral valve leaflets and/or chordae tendineae due to a build-up of proteoglycans. How and why this occurs is not fully understood, but experts have some theories.
Another cause of MVP is untreated or undertreated Rheumatic Fever, an inflammatory disease that sometimes occurs after a Strep Throat infection or Scarlet Fever and mainly affects children. Rheumatic Fever can damage the mitral valve by scarring the leaflets, leading to mitral valve regurgitation, or by thickening them, causing mitral valve stenosis – or both.
Myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) can also damage the heart and mitral valve, as can certain medications. Ergotamine and other migraine medications have been linked to heart valve disease. Drugs like Pergolide (treats Parkinson’s Disease), Dexfenfluramine, and Fenfluramine (appetite suppressants) also increase the likelihood of MVP developing.