What is MVP? (Mitral Valve Prolapse) In a normal valve the flow of blood goes from the left atrium to the left ventricle. Upon closing, it prevents blood from going back into the left atrium. With MVP the flaps don't close evenly. One or both flaps collapse backwards, sometimes allowing a small amount of blood to leak through the valve. Mitral valve prolapse is a genetic disorder and seems to affect women three times more than men. It is one of the most common cardiac findings. There is usually no need to be concerned. The heart is functioning perfectly normally and does not tend to degenerate over time. Diagnosis is usually confirmed by an echocardiogram, which provides an actual picture of the valve. Infection of the mitral valve, endocarditis, is extremely rare. However, people with MVP have a slightly greater risk of contracting it. The American Heart Association no longer suggests antibiotic prophylaxis for certain dental and surgical procedures.
What is MVP Syndrome/Dysautonomia? About 40 percent of patients with mitral valve prolapse also have an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system, or ANS, called dysautonomia. The ANS is composed of two systems; the parasympathetic and the sympathetic. It controls virtually all bodily functions, such as respiration, heartbeat, blood pressure, vision, and digestion. When this system is out of balance it can cause myriad symptoms, including panic attacks, anxiety, fatigue, palpitations, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and more. This combination of symptoms is known as MVP Syndrome. Diagnosis is made by physical examination, a careful medical history, and an echocardiogram. Unfortunately, MVP does not always show up on an echocardiogram. Thus, MVPS is a clinical diagnosis. Usually symptoms don't show up before the age of 14 or 15, but more and more children display central nervous system symptoms before the MVP shows up. Ninety-eight percent of people with MVP Syndrome/Dysautonomia have nothing wrong with their heart. The majority of symptoms are caused by an out-of-balance nervous system.
"Diagnosis of dysautonomia (MVP Syndrome) is a clinical diagnosis not requiring the prolapse of the mitral valve to confirm or deny that diagnosis." Richard O. Russell, Jr., Clinical professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at the University of Alabama, School of Medicine.
Many times the symptoms of MVPS/D are triggered by some life event. Common triggering events are childbirth, a major viral illness, menopause, accident, surgery, going to college (leaving home and stress), death of a loved one, marriage, moving, and divorce. Our nervous system doesn't differentiate between good or bad stress.