What are the signs and symptoms of mitral valve prolapse?
Most people with mitral valve prolapse have no symptoms, however, those who do commonly complain of symptoms such as fatigue, palpitations, chest pain, anxiety, and migraine headaches. Stroke is a very rare complication of mitral valve prolapse.
Fatigue is the most common complaint, although the reason for fatigue is not understood. Patients with mitral valve prolapse may have imbalances in their autonomic nervous system, which regulates heart rate and breathing. Such imbalances may cause inadequate blood oxygen delivery to the working muscles during exercise, thereby causing fatigue.
Palpitations are sensations of fast or irregular heart beats. In most patients with mitral valve prolapse, palpitations are harmless. In very rare cases, potentially serious heart rhythm abnormalities may underlie palpitations and require further evaluation and treatment.
Sharp chest pains are reported in some patients with mitral valve prolapse, which can be prolonged. Unlike angina, chest pain with mitral valve prolapse rarely occurs during or after exercise, and may not respond to nitroglycerin.
Anxiety, panic attacks, and depression may be associated with mitral valve prolapse. Like fatigue, these symptoms are believed to be related to imbalances of the autonomic nervous system.
Migraine headaches have been occasionally linked to mitral valve prolapse. They are probably related to abnormal nervous system control of the tension in the blood vessels in the brain.
Mitral valve prolapse may be rarely associated with strokes occurring in young patients. These patients appear to have increased blood clotting tendencies due to abnormally sticky blood clotting elements, called platelets.
Often the severity of symptoms in patients with mitral prolapse is inversely correlated to the degree of anatomic abnormality. Many patients with severe symptoms have barely detectable prolapse, and the small minority with severe prolapse and valve dysfunction have no symptoms.