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Question:

What can I do for worsening symptoms of mitral valve prolapse (MVP)?

I have MVP. Only after the diagnosis am I experiencing extreme fatigue and more of the other symptoms. My valve is not leaking, but I would like to know what I should do about the worsening symptoms please.  

submitted by Jody-Lee from South Africa on 11/27/2012

Answer:

Michael J. Mihalick, MDby Texas Heart Institute cardiologist, Michael J. Mihalick, MD  

Dear Ms. Loubser:The symptoms related to mitral valve prolapse, known as Barlow's Syndrome, were first described by your countryman, Dr. John Barlow, at the University of Witwatersrand. They consist of fatigue, chest pain (which can be either knife-like or squeezing in nature) which is more often precipitated by emotional rather than physical stress, and palpitations.  I recommend to my patients the following:

1. Increase your intake of water and salt. I suggest that my patients carry something salty with them such as crackers or pretzels. When a bout of fatigue occurs, it can usually be relieved by eating the salty snack and drinking 8-10 oz of  water. Caffeinated beverages which have a diuretic effect should be avoided. Having soup with plenty of salt for lunch may help a lot.

2. Regular aerobic exercise will decrease the heart's sensitivity to adrenaline and will decrease the amount of palpitations.  Exercise and increased salt and water intake raise the blood volume which allows the prolapsing mitral valve to fit better and cause less of a strain on its supporting structures which we think may be the mechanism for the chest pain and arrhythmia. Salt intake is important to retain the increased water intake. Most individuals with MVP have low normal blood pressure and volume expansion is appropriate. Often I see patients that become symptomatic when they try to decrease their sodium (salt) intake because a family member may have been instructed to do so because of high blood pressure. It is also important to realize that these symptoms will usually go into remission. Young women with Barlow's Syndrome often go into remission during pregnancy because of the increase in blood volume that occurs.

I hope that these suggestions will be effective.  

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Updated December 2012
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Texas Heart Institute Heart Information Center
Through this community outreach program, staff members of the Texas Heart Institute (THI) provide educational information related to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease. It is not the intention of THI to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided and THI urges you to visit a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your questions.
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