How does one go about living with mitral valve prolapse?
Most people living with mitral valve prolapse do not experience MVP symptoms or develop complications. Therefore, they do not require treatment. However, there are those who do, and a mitral prolapse should be monitored.
Even individuals with no MVP symptoms should see a physician for a medical evaluation at least once every three years. In some people, the mitral valve can deteriorate over time and complications of mitral valve prolapse can develop.
One such complication is mitral regurgitation, where blood leaks back into the left atrium when the heart beats. Mitral valve regurgitation (insufficiency) can cause serious health problems with a prolapsed mitral valve, such as heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and pulmonary hypertension. It’s not unusual to find mitral valve prolapse symptoms worsening with a leaky mitral valve.
What is it like living with mitral valve prolapse?
Mitral prolapse can cause a number of problematic symptoms, even when it doesn’t pose a major health risk. Heart palpitations and skipped heartbeats are rather common, as is fatigue, chest pain and angina, and shortness of breath (dyspnea). Less common symptoms include headaches, nausea, and diarrhea, constipation, numbness, dizziness, fainting spells, anxiety, and panic attacks.
People with MVP who experience symptoms of autonomic dysfunction are said to have the mitral valve prolapse syndrome. This needs to be evaluated carefully, though, as symptoms can be an indication that there is regurgitation. When regurgitation is severe, the symptoms and complications can be deadly. Mitral valve surgery is often necessary if there is significant backflow.
Living with mitral valve prolapse means minimizing symptoms and risks through daily management. Symptoms in low-risk patients can be controlled with drugs like beta blockers and benzodiazepine anxiety medication. Those at higher risk of complications may benefit from these drugs, as well, but they may also need to take vasodilators, blood thinners, diuretics, and other medications.
Do you need antibiotics before dental work with MVP?
Since people with MVP have a higher risk of developing infective endocarditis, one may need to take prophylactic antibiotics before dental work with mitral valve prolapse, particularly before invasive procedures. Infective endocarditis is a serious infection of the endocardium that can be very heard to treat, so patients at risk of developing it should take safety precautions.
Individuals at risk of developing infective endocarditis should floss and brush their teeth on a daily basis and have their teeth cleaned professionally at least once every six months. In general, one should be vigilant with home oral care. Though no longer routinely recommended by doctors, antibiotic prophylaxis with MVP may also be required before certain medical procedures.
MVP sufferers should note that antibiotic prophylaxis guidelines have changed. In the past, healthcare professionals recommended that patients with mitral valve prolapse take antibiotics before most types of dental work and medical procedures. Today, doctors only prescribe prophylactic drugs for prolapse patients at very high risk of developing endocarditis, such as those with severe regurgitation.
What about MVP diet, exercise, and supplements?
Most medical professionals and individuals living with MVP agree that diet plays a considerable role in managing it effectively. Having a heart-healthy MVP diet plan can be highly beneficial. Just eliminating sugar, caffeine, and alcohol can be very effective in minimizing mitral prolapse symptoms and complications. For most sufferers, these are foods to avoid with mitral valve prolapse.
Dietary supplements and herbs like magnesium, B vitamins, and coenzyme q10, and even kava, can be helpful with a mitral prolapse. In fact, many people living with the condition report good results with natural MVP remedies and supplements. These can react adversely with medications, though, so it’s important to seek professional medical advice before consuming such products.
Light to moderate exercise (20-30 minutes daily) can also be beneficial and is safe for most patients, but again, one should consult a medical professional before starting any new exercise programs. Doctors commonly recommend exercises such as walking and swimming for people living with mitral valve prolapse. Activities like running and jumping rope are exercises to avoid with MVP.
What else can you do to manage mitral prolapse?
Control stress. Stress can raise blood pressure, speed up the heart rate, and impede blood flow, which can trigger MVP symptoms. Stress can cause a variety of damage in the body, as a matter of fact, yet it is often overlooked. To de-stress, one can try meditating, getting regular massages, or doing tai chi or yoga, or even working on a hobby. Some patients find hypnosis and psychotherapy helpful.
Quitting smoking and avoiding harsh climates and weather conditions can also reduce MVP symptoms and complications. Smoking, like stress, elevates blood pressure and increases heart rate. In addition, it damages the blood vessels and structures of the heart. Extreme cold constricts veins and blood vessels, while extreme heat can dehydrate the body. Neither is good with MVP.
There are many ways to alleviate the symptoms of MVP and reduce the risk of complications. The key to minimizing and preventing problems with mitral prolapse, especially more serious MVP types and MVP that is symptomatic, is proactive management. By proactively managing the condition, one can increase life expectancy and improve quality of life living with mitral valve prolapse.