LOS ANGELES (Sept. 1, 1999) -- For many years, Los Angeles dentist and pastor William Bredberg was like most people diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse (MVP)-aware of this quite common and typically harmless cardiac condition, but unhampered by symptoms that might interfere with a normal lifestyle. As a dentist and MVP patient, he knew that a dose of oral antibiotics was often recommended during dental work to guard against infection. Beyond that, his diagnosis of mitral valve prolapse was seldom given a second thought. That uncomplicated scenario changed quite dramatically two years ago.
"My endurance just wasn't what it used to be," recalled Dr. Bredberg, whose active lifestyle included regular walks, snow skiing and other physical activity. "I was always conscious of my health. I avoided elevators, instead taking the stairs to my third floor office. I started to notice that I was huffing and puffing more than usual."
For most people with mitral valve prolapse, few if any symptoms accompany the disorder, which affects an estimated 5 percent to 20 percent of the population. Also known as "click-murmur syndrome," the condition results when the mitral valve, which regulates blood flow on the left side of the heart, "prolapses"-or collapses backward. This sometimes allows small amounts of blood to leak back into the upper chamber of the heart, resulting in a "clicking" sound that can be heard with a stethoscope. Though most people have no symptoms, those who do commonly report palpitations, fatigue, mild shortness of breath and minor chest discomfort. For a very small percentage of those with MVP, a severe prolapse may require surgical intervention.
"Mitral valve prolapse is a very common diagnosis and, most of the time, it's a benign condition," explained cardio-thoracic surgeon Alfredo Trento, M.D., Director, Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "Sometimes there is a leak-though not in the majority of cases-that progressi
Contact: Sandra Van
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center