Palpitations? Pounding? Panic Attacks? You Might Have Mitral Valve Prolapse!
Mitral Valve Prolapse and Thyroid Disease
While the relationship between autoimmune thyroid disease and MVP is established, the reason behind this is not readily explained, and there doesn't appear to be substantial research on the subject to date. We do know, however, that autoimmune thyroid disease predisposes you to either have or develop MVP syndrome, so it's worth checking into if you have symptoms that are not resolved by being euthyroid (having a normal TSH.)
According to the Heart Surgery Forum, MVP is the most common heart valve abnormality, with estimates ranging from 2 million or more Americans diagnosed with this condition, and most are women (about 80%). MVP syndrome also has a strong hereditary tendency, although the exact cause is unknown.
The mitral valve has two flaps. Normally, the mitral valve allows blood to flow only in one direction. Both flaps open when blood is flowing from the left atrium and filling the left ventricle. Both flaps then close tightly when the left ventricle contracts and pumps the blood out to the body.
Symptoms of MVP most regularly reported include:
Diagnosis and Treatment
MVP can often be detected by a doctor during examination of the heart. MVP can be confirmed with an echocardiogram. The majority of patients with mitral valve prolapse have no symptoms, no problems and, therefore, need no treatment other than an annual or semi-annual follow-up exam. However, those who have leaky prolapsing valves need antibiotics to prevent infection of the valve (called encarditis) during certain surgical or dental procedures likely to cause bleeding. Typically, this involves one or two doses of an antibiotic -- i.e., oral amoxicillin and erythromycin as well as intramuscular or intravenous ampicillin, gentamycin, and vancomycin -- at the time of the procedure. Patients with more dramatic symptoms are sometimes given beta- blockers. such as atenolol (Tenormin), metoprolol (Lopressor), and propranolol (Inderal). Only in rare, serious cases is surgery indicated, for repair or replacement of the mitral valve.
Factors That Can Increase the Intensity or Frequency of MVP Syndrome Symptoms
According to Dr. K. A. Scordo's book, Understanding the Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome, you can expect MVP symptoms to become more intense during emotional stress, when you are overtired, after unaccustomed physical activities, during menopause, or during menstruation. And, it's not unusual for the symptoms to disappear spontaneously for months--even years and reappear again. The following are some specific factors that can increase the intensity or frequency of MVP Syndrome symptoms:
Unaccustomed physical activity
Being anxious or nervous
Medicines with stimulants
Being in a hot, dry environment
Flu, cold, or other illnesses
Lack of sleep
Having a menstrual period
I've always had fluttering heartbeat feelings, palpitations (especially after caffeine), shortness of breath, and other mitral valve prolapse (MVP) symptoms, but my regular doctor had never heard anything unusual. My MVP was discovered by an internist during a physical. He prides himself on picking up hard-to-define murmurs, and listened to my heart for a few moments, and detected the characteristic "click" of a prolapsing mitral valve. A trip to the cardiologist for an echocardiogram confirmed the murmur. The main thing I was told to do? Take antibiotics per his instruction before and after dental work, and let any doctors know that I had MVP before surgeries so they can administer antibiotics. I also received a prescription for Atenolol, a beta-blocker. The cardiologist said I should take it if I was having palpitations that were noticeable or prolonged. I rarely have had to use it since the diagnosis, but I do try to minimize my caffeine intake, as this seems to be the thing that really aggravates the MVP for me.
For additional information MVP, check out the following links: