This website is for informational use only and does not provide any medical advice.

What is mitral valve prolapse?

Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is the most common heart valve abnormality. In this condition, enough blood does not flow through the mitral valve into the coronary artery. If the leaflets (valve flaps) do not close tightly, blood can leak back into the heart’s chambers (left atrium and left ventricle), in a condition known as mitral regurgitation. When severe, mitral regurgitation can lead to heart failure and abnormal heart rhythms.

The mitral valve may have the following abnormalities that can prevent it from sealing tightly enough; some people have more than one abnormality:

  • Valve flaps may be too big and thick.
  • Valve flaps may be “floppy.” The tissue of the flaps and their supporting “strings” are too elastic, and parts of the valve flop or bulge back into the atrium.
  • Valve opening may stretch.


MVP doesn’t seem to produce any major symptoms, so many people who have it are unaware of it until complications occur. When MVP does cause signs and symptoms, they may include:

  • Palpitations or arrythymia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough Fatigue, dizziness or anxiety
  • Migraine headaches
  • Chest discomfort


The exact cause of MVP is unknown, but for most people, it is a congenital condition that sometimes runs in families.

Risk factors

MVP is more common in people born with connective tissue disorders such as Marfan syndrome.


Most often, MVP is detected during a routine physical exam when your doctor listens to your heart with a stethoscope.

Tests for MVP include:

Echocardiography Transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) Doppler ultrasound Chest X-ray EKG (electrocardiogram)