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Mitral Valve Prolapse and Panic Disorder

What is MVP?

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Updated February 01, 2009

The heart has four valves that function to control blood flow. These valves open to allow blood to flow forward and then shut to prevent blood from backing up through the valve opening. One of these valves is called the mitral valve and is located on the left side of the heart. Basically, MVP involves an abnormality of the mitral valve that allows blood to leak back through the valve opening. This is sometimes termed “regurgitation.”

Symptoms

Many people with MVP have no symptoms. For others, symptoms may include:

Diagnosis

To determine if you have mitral valve prolapse, it is necessary to see a doctor. After going over your symptom history, your doctor will listen to your heart with a stethoscope. MVP will sometimes produce a certain “clicking” sound that your doctor will be able to hear. If your doctor suspects MVP, you will probably be referred for an echocardiogram. This non-invasive, simple test produces an image that can assess any abnormal function of the mitral valve.

Complications and Precautions

For the majority of people, MVP causes no lasting negative effects and does not interfere with any life functions. But, if the valve prolapse is severe and regurgitation occurs (back up of blood flow through the valve opening), symptoms can range from mild to serious. Treatment of these symptoms may include medications to ease cardiac symptoms and strengthen heart function or surgery to repair or replace the mitral valve.

People with MVP may be at risk of developing a serious condition called infective endocarditis. This is the result of bacteria from the bloodstream lodging on the abnormal mitral valve. Certain surgical or dental procedures may put those with MVP at risk of developing infective endocarditis. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics before such procedures to reduce your risk of contracting the infection. Good oral hygiene, including regular dental check ups, is especially important if you have MVP.

Learn more about MVP from you About.com Guide to Heart Disease.

MVP and Panic Disorder

Some research has shown evidence of a correlation between MVP and panic disorder. Much of this research suggests that MVP occurs more frequently in those with PD or other anxiety disorders. However, there is some controversy as to whether or not this connection actually exists.

In a study, researchers concluded that there is insufficient information to establish a link between MVP and panic disorder. They further state:

“…if there is concomitance between panic disorder and MVP, it is possibly a weak association and mainly occurs in subjects with less severe variants of MVP.”

Hopefully, future studies will provide a greater understanding of what, if any, connection exists between panic disorder and MVP.

Sources:

Alaor Santos Filho, M.D., Benedito C. Maciel, M.D., Ph.D., Rocío Martín-Santos, M.D., Ph.D., Minna M. D. Romano, M.D., and José Alexandre Crippa, M.D., Ph.D. “Does the Association Between Mitral Valve Prolapse and Panic Disorder Really Exist?” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2008; 10(1): 38–47.

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. “Mitral Valve Prolapse”. 11 Nov 2008.

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