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Living With Mitral Valve Prolapse

Most people who have mitral valve prolapse (MVP) have no symptoms or related problems, need no treatment, and are able to lead normal, active lives. If symptoms and complications do occur, you often can control them with medicine.

Some people may need heart valve surgery to relieve their symptoms and prevent complications. Rarely, MVP can cause arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) and other problems.

Ongoing Care

If you have MVP, having ongoing care is important. Ask your doctor how often you should schedule followup visits. See your doctor if your symptoms worsen.

The backflow of blood that may occur with MVP increases your risk of infective endocarditis (IE). IE is an infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers and valves.

You can take steps to try to prevent IE. Tell your doctors and dentists that you have MVP. Floss and brush your teeth regularly. Gum infections and tooth decay can cause IE. Call your doctor if you have any signs of infection, such as sore throat, general body aches, or fever.

Take all of your medicines as your doctor prescribes, including blood-thinning and high blood pressure medicines.

Make healthy lifestyle choices. For example, avoid smoking and taking birth control pills; both can raise your risk for blood clots.

If you smoke, talk with your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke. For more information about how to quit smoking, go to the Health Topics Smoking and Your Heart article.

Ask your doctor how much and what types of physical activity are safe for you. Also, ask your doctor whether you need to make any changes to your diet.

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July 1, 2011