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Mitral Valve Prolapse

The heart has four rooms or chambers in it that hold blood. The upper chambers are called atria and the lower chambers are called ventricles. Between the chambers are valves. These valves act as one-way doors to direct the flow of blood through the heart. The mitral (MI-tral) valve is made up of two leaflets (flaps) that open and close to control blood flow to the left ventricle. Mitral valve prolapse happens when the leaflets of the mitral valve in your heart do not close properly.

MVP may also be called click-murmur syndrome or floppy-valve syndrome. With MVP, the leaflets may not work right because they are too big or floppy. MVP can also happen if the chords that hold the leaflets in place become stretched or swollen. When listening to your heart, your caregiver may hear a clicking sound because of the floppy leaflets. Some of the blood from the ventricle may come backward into the atrium because the leaflets do not work right. This causes a leaking or "whooshing" sound, which is called a murmur.

What causes MVP? MVP is common, even in healthy people. You can be born with MVP or may develop it later in life. MVP may be genetic (runs in the family). Your MVP may have been caused by a childhood illness, such as rheumatic fever. Having certain other health conditions may increase your chance of having MVP. Many times the cause of MVP is not known.