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Top 5 Things You Should Know (But Don't) about Mitral Valve Prolapse

        Health | Heart

1
MVP can't be prevented, but it can be treated.
You might be able to get back on track with some pills.
You might be able to get back on track with some pills.
Adam Gault/Getty Images

­Unlike a three-pack-a-day smoker who has a bad ticker, people with MVP have nothing to feel guilty about. Most people with MVP were born with it, and floppy atrial leaflets sprout more often on some family trees than on others. Those not born with MVP got it as a side effect of other conditions, especially those that affect connective tissues like Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Even scoliosis can cause MVP.

Most people won't need treatment, but there's hope for those who experience problems. If symptoms are rhythm-related, your doctor may give you beta blockers, which lower blood pressure and relax blood vessels, allowing them to function normally. Other drugs can also get heartbeats back on track and prevent potentially deadly clotting. If the condition is serious, the leaflets can sometimes be surgically trimmed. When this isn't possible, the valve can be replaced with either a mechanical valve or a biological valve (coming from a deceased human or a pig). Biological valves are less likely to cause clotting but usually need replacing after a decade or so. Mechanical valves normally long outlive the rest of your body but require you to take blood thinners daily for the rest of your life to prevent platelets from getting too comfortable as they pass through the new digs.

So if you have MVP, take heart: It's not your fault, it may not cause problems, and most problems can be fixed.

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