Mitral valve prolapse

Mitral valve prolapse is a condition in which the heart valve between two chambers of the heart (the upper left chamber and the lower left chamber) bulge outward causing blood to leak backward through the heart. Mitral valve prolapse is also sometimes called click-valve syndrome, Barlow's syndrome, floppy valve syndrome, and ballooning mitral valve syndrome.

What causes mitral valve prolapse?

Mitral valve prolapse is often inherited and is linked with disorders such as Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Adult polycystic kidney disease, Ebstein's anomaly, and scoliosis (curvature of the spine).

Is mitral valve prolapse serious?

Around 5% of people have a MVP. In most cases, MVP is not serious and needs no treatment. Possible complications may include infection of the heart valve (endocarditis) and problems with heart rhythm (arrhythmias).

Can I prevent mitral valve prolapse?

Mitral valve prolapse cannot be prevented.

How do I know if my child has mitral valve prolapse?

Mitral valve prolapse is often asymptomatic, meaning there are no visible symptoms. Your child may be diagnosed during a routine doctor’s visit. Symptoms include:

  • Racing or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, often when lying flat or during physical activity
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain not caused by a heart attack or coronary artery disease

How do I treat mitral valve prolapse?

If your child has no symptoms, she may not need treatment. If she does require treatment, the doctor may recommend either medication or surgery to repair or replace the defective valve.

If there is mitral regurgitation, your child may require antibiotics when they visit the dentist or undergo any medical procedure as the leaking valve is an attractive site for bacteria to settle on. 

Should I call the doctor?

If your child experiences chest pains, you should seek immediate medical treatment. If your child has any of the signs of mitral valve prolapse, make an appointment to see the doctor.

What you need to know about mitral valve prolapse

  • Mitral valve prolapse is a defective valve between two of the heart’s chambers.
  • The defective valve may cause blood to flow backward through the heart.
  • Many cases of mitral valve prolapse don’t require treatment.
  • Treatment options include medication and surgery.

Other heart conditions:

Written by Rebecca Stigall for Kidspot, New Zealand's parenting resource for family health. Sources include Better Health Channel, NSW Health and Health Insite.

Last revised: Wednesday, 17 September 2014

This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.