Is mitral valve prolapse life threatening?
Is mitral valve prolapse life threatening? Normally, it isn’t. For a lot of people living with a mitral valve that prolapses, the condition is benign and does not cause problems. Most individuals with MVP do not even know that they have the disorder.
That being said, there are different types of mitral valve prolapse. Some are more dangerous and can lead to serious complications. Sometimes, MVP complications can result in death. Rarely, a mitral prolapse may even cause sudden death.
Classic MVP is the type of mitral prolapse most likely to cause deadly complications, particularly when leaflet displacement is flail and asymmetric. This type usually accompanies disturbing mitral valve prolapse symptoms. Asymmetric flail displacement leaves the mitral leaflet flapping about (flailing), so sufferers tend to have a leaky heart valve. Leaking valves often require mitral valve surgery.
What are the complications of mitral valve prolapse?
Mitral valve regurgitation is the most common complication of MVP. When there is mitral regurgitation, blood leaks back into the left atrium (the heart’s upper left chamber) when the heart beats. Over time, blood can accumulate in the atrium and the lungs, especially if the regurgitation is significant. This can enlarge/damage the left ventricle (the bottom left heart chamber), resulting in heart failure.
Regurgitation of the mitral valve also increases the risk of infective endocarditis. Infective endocarditis is an infection of the endocardium, the inner layer of tissue that lines the chambers and valves of the heart. It occurs when microorganisms enter the bloodstream, attach to the endocardium, and form anomalous growths, usually around the mitral valve. This can cause deadly complications.
Atrial fibrillation (AFib) and pulmonary hypertension are other mitral valve prolapse complications. With AFib, abnormal electrical signals in the heart’s atrial chambers cause an irregular heartbeat. This irregular beating of the heart can lead to blood clotting, strokes, and heart failure, where the vital organ is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs for blood and oxygen.
Pulmonary hypertension is a form of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs and the right side of the heart. It can cause cor pulmonale, a condition characterized by enlargement and eventual failure of the right ventricle, as a complication. It can also cause bleeding in the lungs, blood clots (dangerous if you already have narrow or blocked blood vessels), and arrhythmias.
Can mitral valve prolapse cause sudden death?
Possibly. Mitral valve prolapse has been associated with ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in the last few decades. There have been multiple reports of such events. Moreover, recent studies suggest that people with certain electrocardiography, echocardiography, and cardiovascular MRI findings are more likely to die suddenly and unexpectedly from ventricular arrhythmias.
Is mitral valve prolapse life threatening? It can be. Can mitral valve prolapse cause sudden death? It is possible. However, according to experts, the risk of sudden cardiac death only increases with significant prolapse and specific features. Only a small percentage of mitral prolapse sufferers have the physical characteristics that increase the risk of sudden death from MVP arrhythmia.
There are several characteristics that increase the risk of potentially fatal arrhythmogenic mitral valve prolapse and arrhythmic mitral valve prolapse and sudden cardiac death. These include having a bileaflet mitral prolapse, frequent and complex ventricular ectopy, and fibrosis of the papillary muscles and inferobasal portion of the left ventricular wall. Being a female also increases the risk.
Bileaflet mitral valve prolapse (BiMVP) refers to when both mitral valve leaflets are affected in MVP. Ventricular ectopy refers to abnormal or premature beating of the heart’s left/right ventricle. This can be frequent (more than 3 beats per minute) or complex (have a multiform, alternating, or repetitive pattern). Fibrosis is the formation of excess fibrous connective tissue inside the body.
Is mitral valve prolapse a serious condition?
Usually, no, and the global mitral valve prolapse death rate is low. However, for some folks living with a mitral prolapse, the condition can be serious. As mentioned above, it can lead to medical complications that can be life threatening. In addition, it can cause a variety of disturbing symptoms, including heart palpitations, chest pains or angina, and dyspnea (trouble breathing).
Mitral valve prolapse symptoms can be frightening and incredibly bothersome, in particular when MVP occurs with autonomic dysfunction (dysautonomia). This is sometimes called the mitral valve prolapse syndrome. The presence/frequency/intensity of symptoms does not necessarily indicate that the condition is serious, though, and symptomless mitral prolapse can be problematic.
For people asking “Is mitral valve prolapse a serious condition,” MVP tends to be more serious when there is regurgitation. The higher the degree of regurgitation, the higher the risk of problems and complications, generally. Doctors determine the degree of regurgitation by looking at the regurgitant fraction – the percentage of blood regurgitation divided by the stroke volume.
Can you die from mitral valve prolapse? Is mitral valve prolapse life threatening? In some cases, yes, but most sufferers can live long, healthy lives. Even in serious cases of MVP, there are normally treatment options. In the last 50 years, there have been significant advances in medicine. These developments have improved the prognosis for people with heart valve issues.
How is mitral valve prolapse treated?
Most individuals with a prolapsed mitral valve do not require any treatment. They don’t experience MVP symptoms and the risk of physical complications is low. Or, the symptoms are so mild that routine mitral valve prolapse monitoring is sufficient. For those that do require treatment, there are numerous medications that can improve symptoms and aid in preventing complications.
Treatment drugs for people living with MVP and leaky heart valves include beta blockers like acebutolol (Sectral), atenolol (Tenormin), and bisoprolol (Zebeta), anxiety drugs like alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium), and vasodilators. Blood thinners, diuretics, and digoxin are other types of mitral valve prolapse medication. Prophylactic antibiotics may help to prevent endocarditis.
Non-drug treatments like Coenzyme Q10 and magnesium supplements can also be helpful for treating MVP. Many sufferers find that they relieve pain, palpitations, fatigue, and anxiety and panic attacks, especially when combined with exercise and a healthy MVP diet plan. Cognitive therapy and relaxation activities (yoga, tai chi, meditation, etc.) may benefit some with the condition.
When a mitral prolapse is severe and there is regurgitation, surgery may be necessary. This typically involves cutting open the breastbone to repair or replace the prolapsed mitral valve (open heart surgery). Depending on the patient’s age, health, and other factors, minimally invasive mitral valve surgery may be an option. Surgery is the only curative mitral valve prolapse treatment.