Nurse to lead discussion on Mitral Valve Prolapse

By Rick Moreci

Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP) will be the topic of a discussion facilitated by Mary Fisher, a cardiology nurse at Rockford’s Swedish American Hospital, Oct. 10 at 3 p.m.

The meeting will be held in the Hillcrest Covenant Church on the corner of North First and Ridge Streets.

MVP, also known as click-murmur syndrome or Barlow’s Syndrome, occurs when one or both heart valve flaps are enlarged. As a result, when the heart contracts or pumps, the mitral valve flaps are not able to close smoothly or evenly.

One or both flaps may then collapse back into the left atrium. This also may cause the blood to flow backward in the valve instead of continuing in one direction.

Carol Hegberg, coordinator of the group of MVP patients which will be attending the discussion, said 20 percent of the population is afflicted by MVP. Approximately 80 percent of these people are women. Most people diagnosed with this disease are in their mid 20s to early 30s.

MVP is a disease that people are born with. Symptoms are usually not present until around a person’s 20s, Fisher said.

According to Hegberg, some of the more mild symptoms of MVP include sensitivity to smell, cold hands or feet, heart fluttering or murmuring, difficulty sleeping, shaking, the inability to think clearly and shortness of breath.

She said more severe symptoms are fatigue, panic attacks, low exercise tolerance, fainting, migraine headaches, chest pain, irregular heartbeat and hormone imbalance.

It is very rare for MVP to be a life-threatening disease. It can be lifestyle changing and certainly uncomfortable, but it does not usually lead to death.

According to Fisher, it is unknown how a person acquires MVP. There is not enough information available on this condition to make a hypothesis. However, there are several treatment methods people can use to relieve the severity of the condition.

It is important to understand that the disease cannot be completely cured, however, there are things people can do to help them live normal lifestyles.

Fisher said the first thing sufferers of MVP must do is go to a physician on a regular basis to have their heart monitored. Depending on the severity of the disease, a doctor may prescribe medication. This medication would only be available through a doctor’s prescription, Fisher said.

“Two big things you can do on your own are diet and exercise,” Hegberg said.

“Mitral Valve Prolapse is not always a debilitating disease,” Fisher said. “Many people who suffer from the condition follow exercise programs, monitor their diets and follow a simple medication regimen to lead very productive lives.”