Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) - Diagnosis

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How is mitral valve prolapse diagnosed and evaluated?

Examination of the patient reveals characteristic findings unique to mitral valve prolapse. Using a stethoscope, a clicking sound is heard soon after the ventricle begins to contract. This clicking is felt to reflect tightening of the abnormal valve leaflets against the pressure load of the left ventricle. If there is associated leakage (regurgitation) of blood through the abnormal valve opening, a "whooshing" sound (murmur) can be heard immediately following the clicking sound.

Echocardiography (ultrasound imaging of the heart) is the most useful test for mitral valve prolapse. Echocardiography can measure the severity of prolapse and the degree of mitral regurgitation. It can also detect areas of infection on the abnormal valves. Valve infection is called endocarditis and is a very rare, but potentially serious complication of mitral valve prolapse. Echocardiography can also evaluate the effect of prolapse and regurgitation on the functioning of the muscles of the ventricles.

Abnormally rapid or irregular heart rhythms can occur in patients with mitral valve prolapse, causing palpitations. A 24-hour Holter monitor is a device that takes a continuous recording of the patient's heart rhythm as the patient carries on his/her daily activities. Abnormal rhythms occurring during the test period are captured and analyzed at a later date. If abnormal rhythms do not occur every day, the Holter recording may fail to capture the abnormal rhythms. These patients then can be fitted with a small "event-recorder" to be worn for up to several weeks. When the patient senses a palpitation, an event button can be pressed to record the heart rhythm prior to, during, and after the palpitations.

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Comment from: dhey0225, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: August 13

Ever since I was still in high school, I already experienced chest pains and palpitations. Due to fear, I did not go to the doctor for consultation. Until one night, while having shower, I suddenly experienced chest pain that was not relieved by rest. Immediately after I report for work, I asked a colleague to do an ECG for me. I'm a nurse, by the way. My ECG showed early ventricular repolarization. I got scared this time so I consulted with a cardiologist. He ordered a series of lab tests and an echocardiogram. The echocardiogram revealed that I have anterior mitral valve prolapse. I took propranolol two times a day for 1 month for my chest pain and palpitation as prescribed by my doctor. I was also advised to engage myself in sports and to avoid any forms of stimulants. I was 23 when I was diagnosed with it. Now, I am 26 but still living a normal life just like others!

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Comment from: wendon, 25-34 Female (Caregiver) Published: September 28

I have always had some arthritis pain in my hips, but tolerable pain. I used to walk 2 miles per day and my hips would hurt for maybe the first mile, then it would ease up. For the last month I can't walk for 200 feet without a severe burning pain in the front area of my hips/top of my legs. I can't even continue walking at all it hurts so badly. I just have to stand still for 1 to 2 minutes until the burning pain subsides, then walk for another 100 to 200 feet and stop again. I've had MRIs and x-rays on my hips and am told that I am not a candidate for any hip replacements.

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