Risk Factors for Mitral Valve Prolapse

Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) also has other names, such as click-murmur syndrome and floppy mitral valve syndrome. It’s also called the Barlow syndrome, named after the doctor who first described this condition. To understand this heart ailment, you must know that the mitral valve is one of the four valves in the heart. It controls the flow of blood between the left atrium and left ventricle by opening and closing its two flaps or leaflets.

When you have MVP, one or both of these flaps are too large. It can also be due to the extremely long chordae tendinea, which is the string that connects to the underside of the leaflets and the ventricular wall. Having a long chordae tendinea leads to uneven closure of the flaps or the bulging back of the leaflets into the left atrium. Because of this, only a small amount of blood leaks through and it moves backward from the ventricle to the atrium.

Despite this, the valve can still function properly and the heart can pump normally. In fact, only very few people who have this condition experience heart problems. Still, it can up the risk for certain complications. Risk factors for this condition include the following:

Family history
If your parents, siblings, or first-degree relatives have mitral valve prolapse, you are at an increased risk of developing this condition yourself. Also, inherited conditions such as Marfan’s syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome can make you more prone to MVP.

Congenital Defect
Birth defect that changes the shape of the mitral valve can also up your risk. Also, if you have structural abnormalities in the heart such as if you were born with thicker valve flaps, you’re more likely to experience complications from MVP.

Medical Conditions
There are certain medical conditions that affect the heart’s ability to function or the way it works. These diseases can also be considered risk factors for MVP. Examples of such ailments are lupus and other connective tissue disorders, hyperthyroidism, and osteogenesis imperfect.

Although women are more prone to MVP than men, it is men who are more likely to have complications due to this heart condition.

Older people are more vulnerable than young people not only for developing the illness but also for having complications.

Generally, this condition doesn’t require any specific treatment. But doctors would advise moderate changes in diet and lifestyle to prevent symptoms or complications. There won’t be special restrictions on diet but it would be best to limit intake of caffeine, alcohol and stimulants if there is any heart irregularity. It’s also important to drink plenty of fluids since dehydration can trigger MVP.

If you are pregnant, you should tell your doctor or midwife that you have this condition. If there is a need to use a urinary catheter, you may be required to take antibiotics. Same is true if you have infection during the time of delivery.

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