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


In rare cases, it can suddenly kill you.

I hear a beat … how sweet.
I hear a beat … how sweet.

­Although most people will experience no problems from MVP, other people may be in serious risk. One of the symptoms of MVP is the development of arrhythmias, or abnormal heartbeats. Arrhythmias are often the result of regurgitation and usually affect the heart's upper chambers. Sometimes, the arrhythmia occurs in the form of atrial fibrillation, in which the heart quivers instead of pumps. This leaves the atria unable to pass blood along to the ventricles.

If you have MVP and feel an unusual heartbeat, it doesn't mean you're going to die. Most of the time, these arrhythmias aren't deadly. However, in cases of sudden heart failure, it has been found that the cause is often an arrhythmia, though it's not known for sure if the fatal arrhythmia is directly related to the faulty valve [source: Mayo]. If you have MVP but the leaflets are still forming an effective seal against leakage, it's unlikely that you'll experience arrhythmias. In some cases of MVP, older patients have been found to have higher chances of experiencing nonfatal arrhythmias [source: PACE].

MVP also increases the risk of stroke because blood pooling in the atrium may form clots [source: NHLBI]. These clots can then break up, pass through the bloodstream and block a blood vessel in the brain. This too, however, is quite rare and only occurs in the case of an extremely fast heartbeat.

What do your teeth have to do with MVP? Find out in the next section.