Mitral valve prolapse: From syndrome to disease

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Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is due to a heterogeneous group of conditions that may affect the mitral valve or the mitral valve apparatus. Although MVP may progress later in life to frank mitral insufficiency requiring mitral valve repair or may predispose to bacterial endocarditis, in most cases it is a benign, idiopathic condition without serious consequences. However, many investigators have documented that MVP is often associated with a constellation of signs and symptoms, which appear to constitute a distinct syndrome. These associated findings include autonomic dysfunction, frequent complaints of chest pain, palpitations, orthostasis, fatigue, dyspnea on exertion and anxiety. Although the risk of significant myocardial dysfunction or bacterial endocarditis appears to be related to patient sex, age and the severity of valvular prolapse and insufficiency, there appears to be little or no relations between the extent of prolapse and the degree of autonomic dysfunction or the severity of symptoms of chest pain, palpitations, dyspnea on exertion and anxiety. The development of uniform diagnostic standards for mental disorders has helped to make it possible to identify several related entities, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and agoraphobia; patients with these disorders frequently somatize their anxiety and complain of many symptoms which may be seen in patients with MVP. Although several studies have reported an increased frequency of MVP in patients with anxiety disorders, recent studies suggest that the conditions are not linked. Iatrogenic cardiac neurosis is common in both groups of patients. Anxiety disorders and MVP, both common conditions, may occur concommitantly and thereby produce a complicated clinical picture whose end result may be one of long term physical and emotional impairment. It is important for general internists and cardiologists to recognize the often protean manifestations of the anxiety disorders, and to utilize psychiatric consultation as necessary, and conversely, for psychiatrists to recognize how common and usually benign MVP is and to be able to reassure their patients or, when necessary, to send them for cardiac consultation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)J53-J58
JournalThe American journal of cardiology
Issue number18
StatePublished - Dec 28 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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