What are the mitral valve prolapse symptoms with MVP?
Most people living with the MVP condition do not experience any mitral valve prolapse symptoms. As a matter of fact, unless a doctor discovers the prolapsed mitral valve during a routine physical examination, it could go undetected.
Listening with a stethoscope may reveal a distinct click sound when the mitral valve leaflets don’t close properly. Your doctor could also detect a murmur, which is the sound of blood flowing back into the left atrium, the heart’s left upper chamber.
In a small percentage of individuals, mitral valve prolapse can be symptomatic. It can even be deadly, particularly if there is progressive mitral regurgitation. Regurgitation tends to be mild and develop gradually. However, it can progress quickly sometimes, triggering a sudden onset of acute symptoms and complications. Patients who develop these should seek medical attention without delay.
Note: Mitral valve prolapse symptoms can be very bothersome, even in those with a mild prolapse. Lifestyle changes, prescription drugs like beta blockers and benzodiazepines, and other forms of MVP treatment can help to decrease the frequency and intensity of mitral prolapse symptoms.
How do doctors identify the MVP click and murmur?
The murmur and click timing that are associated with a prolapsing mitral valve are different to other heart conditions. The length of the murmur when standing versus squatting and with certain pressure-related maneuvers helps to differentiate the condition. The timing of the systolic click also changes, further distinguishing mitral prolapse from conditions such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
For example, when standing, and during a test called the valsalva maneuver where a patient exhales with closed airways, the click occurs earlier in the systolic cycle and the heart murmur is longer. When squatting, the click comes later in the heartbeat and accompanies a short murmur. The handgrip maneuver, which involves clenching a fist as tightly as possible for as long as possible, also shortens the length of the murmur, but it produces a mid-point click. This type of systolic click is very common with the mitral valve prolapse condition. It is the most conclusive sign that MVP is present.
Other tests, such as the echocardiogram, help to confirm the diagnosis. Beyond discovery during an examination, a variety of symptoms can indicate that there is a prolapsing mitral valve.
What are the mitral valve prolapse symptoms?
MVP symptoms and signs can include:
- Chest pain or discomfort (angina) – It can feel dull, sharp, or like pressure and last for just a brief moment or several hours. This pain or discomfort is not usually related to a heart attack. But, if there is any question, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.
- Irregular heartbeats or heart palpitations – The heart may skip beats, beat very quickly, flutter, or beat too hard. These classic mitral valve prolapse symptoms may occur more frequently when reclining on the left side, although that is not always the case.
- Fatigue – Extreme tiredness can occur chronically with or without strenuous physical exertion. MVP is sometimes mistaken for chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Trouble breathing (dyspnea) or air hunger – Either during physical exertion or when lying flat.
- Dizziness – Patients may experience unprovoked lightheadedness or vertigo.
- Fainting (syncope) – One of the less common MVP symptoms.
What else should you know about symptoms of mitral valve prolapse?
In addition to the mitral valve prolapse symptoms mentioned above, a long list of seemingly unrelated symptoms have been associated with symptomatic mitral prolapse. These include anxiety, panic attacks, and symptoms of dysautonomia. Those who experience symptoms of autonomic dysfunction with MVP (about 40% of sufferers) have what some call the mitral valve prolapse syndrome.
It is not uncommon for people with symptomatic MVP to find their mitral valve prolapse symptoms worsening over time. Mild symptoms can become more frequent and intense, or new disturbing symptoms may occur. More often than not, this isn’t cause for concern, but worsening MVP symptoms can be a sign that one’s condition has deteriorated and/or complications have developed.
If your symptoms have gotten worse, see a heart specialist as soon as possible. In general, individuals living with mitral valve prolapse symptoms should visit their physician regularly for thorough examinations. Medical experts often recommend yearly checkups to monitor MVP.