Symptoms of Mitral Valve Prolapse
Symptoms of MVP often occur following major stress events such as childbirth, severe viral illness, or life changes like marriage or divorce, job pressures, etc. Symptoms vary from very mild to severe, and symptoms may improve or worsen in the same patient over time. As many as sixty percent of patients with MVP never show symptoms.
Symptoms of MVP usually include one or more of the following:
Irregular Heartbeat: This is sometimes felt as "fluttering" or palpitations. The patient may feel as if the heart "stops beating" for a moment. Sudden breathlessness or the urge to cough may be felt. Palpitations may be noticed when lying down at night, particularly when lying on the left side; such palpitations are almost always due to MVP.
Tachycardia: A sudden speeding up of both the heart rate or the pulse along with a pounding heartbeat are common symptoms of MVP. In some patients, MVP is first noticed when checking heart rate during exercising--the heart rate is found to be much higher than expected.
Chest Pain: Chest pain is a common but poorly understood symptom of MVP. The pain may be sharp or dull, and it may last from a few seconds to several hours. Chest pain may occur at rest more than with exertion, and it may occur alone or with other MVP symptoms.
Panic Attack: Panic attack may be another symptom of MVP. A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense anxiety or impending doom for no apparent reason. A panic attack may be mild or severe and disabling. Have you suffered panic attacks? At least four of the following symptoms appear during an attack:
Chest pain and discomfort
Sensation of being choked or smothered
Feelings of dizziness, vertigo, or unsteadiness
Hot and cold flashes; sweating; faintness
Trembling or shaking
Fear of dying, going crazy, or uncontrolled behavior
Fatigue and Weakness: Fatigue and weakness are not the same as depression. Many MVP patients report that they have no energy. Minimum activities such as daily housework may lead to extreme exhaustion. Such patients may be diagnosed with "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome."
Many patients are interested in learning about the tests administered at the Autonomic Disorders/MVP Center. Although the tests can be tiring, the information gained from those test results helps doctors to evaluate MVP symptoms and provide each patient with the best possible care. While each patient is evaluated individually, most MVP patients will undergo the following tests during their initial visit.
The patient fills out a questionnaire that gives doctors some basic information, including symptoms and how these symptoms are affecting daily life. Background information helps doctors to assess each patient's condition and determine the next step.
The "gold standard" for diagnosis of MVP is the echocardiogram or sonogram. This test provides doctors with a picture of the structures of the heart, including the mitral valve. The test is performed similar to an X-ray; it is painless and non-invasive. The test enables doctors to see how the mitral valve is working as well as evaluate the size and function of the aortic valve, and other parts of the heart.
Another test that is frequently done is called "the autonomic function study." This test is also painless and non-invasive. No "needles" are used for any of these tests.
The autonomic function test is very important because it reveals whether a patient's nervous system is in balance. This information is critical in order for doctors to decide on the correct medications for your condition. Very few clinics in the U.S. are able to do autonomic function studies, but this important test is available at the Alabama Autonomic Disorders/MVP Center.
Patients may also undergo a metabolic exercise test. This test helps doctors to identify any other serious heart condition that may exist and shows how the heart responds to exercise. When the exercise physiologist reviews the metabolic exercise test results, he assesses a patient's level of fitness and can then prepare an exercise program appropriate for that patient.
At the Autonomic Disorders/MVP Center, these are the most common tests. Each patient's needs are met individually and some patients may undergo additional tests; some patients may not undergo all these tests. All the health professionals at the Autonomic Disorders/MVP Center are committed to providing each patient with state-of-the-art, individualized care.