Mitral Valve Prolapse

The mitral valve is located on the left side of the heart between the left atrium and left ventricle. The purpose of the mitral valve is to form a seal between these two chambers of the heart to prevent the back flow of blood. When blood enters the left side of the heart, it is oxygenated and enters through the pulmonary veins. The blood then travels through the left atrium; the bicuspid (mitral) valve then opens to let the blood flow down to the left ventricle.The left ventricle contracts, causing the mitral valve to close (preventing the backflow of blood). When the left ventricle contracts it is pumping the blood out to the remainder of the body. (Jenkins, 2007) The mitral valve is made up of two thin leaf like structures that resembles the look of a parachute. The valve is attached to the wall of the left ventricle by a stringy structure called chordae tendineae. When a patient is affected by mitral valve prolapse, the structure of the valve and the chordae tendineae are affected by myxomatous degeneration.An abnormal thickening of the valve flaps is caused by a build-up of small collagen tumors. (American Heart Association, 2013) The prolapse is caused by the inability for the chordae tendineae to pull the valve tight during the late stages of systole. As the left ventricle decreases in size the chordae fails to maintain tension on the mitral valve, therefore causing regurgitation into the left atrium. (Systolic Murmurs- Mitral Valve Prolapse) When the valve does not close properly it can cause mitral regurgitation.Mitral regurgitation is the leaking of blood from the left ventricle back into the left atrium. Mitral regurgitation can cause the heart to enlarge and over work to compensate for the blood that has traveled back into the atrium. (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2011) This in return can lead to the development of heart failure. Regurgitation can also cause an irregular heartbeat called an arrhythmia. The arrhythmia is heard or seen when backflow occurs. If backflow is serious enough, it can cause a blood clot to form.The blood clot can then travel through an artery and cause a heart attack or if it travels to the brain can cause a stroke. Mitral valve prolapse can also lead to shortness of breath and chest pain. Mitral valve prolapse can lead to infections of the heart or other areas of the body. Mitral valve prolapse is rarely deadly. (American Heart Association, 2013) Mitral valve prolapse is usually detected through a routine physical. Most patients do not have any symptoms when the murmur may be heard.When auscultation occurs, you will hear a normal S1 and quiet systole. The valve will then have a mid-systolic click that is very pronounced. A crescendo-decrescendo is immediately heard after the mid-systolic click. This is best heard in the apex area of the chest. (Systolic Murmurs- Mitral Valve Prolapse) To properly diagnose the disorder an echocardiogram has to be done. An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart that can show the characteristics of the valve and to examine if the valve is allowing leakage or backflow. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2011) Misdiagnosis in the past effected 5-15 percent of patients who were actually suffering from other conditions that were causing the valves to bulge and mimic mitral valve prolapse. In the years past doctors would prescribe antibiotics to patients who was having dental procedures done but The American Heart Association does not recommend the prescribing of antibiotics even if they have any associated symptoms. (American Heart Association, 2013) Treatment can vary depending on the severity of the mitral valve prolapse.In most cases treatment is not necessary; however medications can be prescribed to help treat the symptoms. In more severe cases the valve may have to be repaired or replaced. Replacement only occurs in patients that have severe symptoms such as heart failure or enlarged heart muscle. In closing, Mitral valve prolapse occurs in 2-3 percent of the population. Most people who have been diagnosed with mitral valve prolapsed were born with some kind of genetic risk.It can also be caused by connective tissue disorders. Although the exact cause of mitral valve prolapsed is unknown, the condition is easily treated and rarely cause life threatening issues. References American Heart Association. (2013, February 18). Retrieved from www. heart. org: http://www. heart. org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/HeartValveProblemsandDisease/Problem-Mitral-Valve-Prolapse_UCM_450441_Article. jsp Jenkins, K. (2007). Anatomy and Physiology . In From Science to Life. John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

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