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Question:

I have mitral valve prolapse.  May I lift weights in the gym?

Hi doctor. I’m 26 years old. I was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse with mild mitral regurgitation 8 years ago. I feel nothing since then. My last 2D echo was 2 years ago. The impression says anterior mitral valve leaflet prolapse with mild mitral regurgitation which is the same in the year 2004. Doctor, I just want to ask if I can lift weights in the gym. I’m only 56kgs, 5'8" in height. Will it affect my heart? Thank you very much....God bless.   

submitted by KC from Ilocos Sur, Philippines on 11/24/2012

Answer:

by Texas Heart Institute cardiologist, Raymond F. Stainback, MD    

Raymond F. Stainback, MDMitral valve prolapse with mild mitral valve regurgitation should be followed periodically by echocardiography as you are doing. In some individuals, the condition can progress over one’s lifetime and having an echocardiogram every year or two is prudent. This is because gradual progression of mitral valve regurgitation usually occurs without any symptoms. In some individuals with a prolapsed mitral valve, sudden more severe mitral regurgitation can occur if there is sudden rupture of one of the chordate tendineae of the mitral valve apparatus. These are the “parachute string”-like structures that support the valve when the ventricle contracts. In prolapse, the leaflets and the chordate are not as strong as in a normal valve because of the process of myxomatous degeneration of the tissue.
In people with prolapsed mitral valve, the spectrum of disease can be very broad with some developing severe prolapse and mitral regurgitation over time and some continuing to have mild prolapse and minimal mitral regurgitation their entire life. When mitral regurgitation is more than mild, it is reasonable to perform an echocardiogram yearly. Exercise: Strong resistance exercise such as lifting heavy weights dramatically increases the pressures on the left ventricle (and on the mitral valve) during the maneuvers. Therefore, it makes sense not to pursue heavy resistance exercise such as this as a precaution. However, it is probably okay (not any real information in this area) to lift weights that are not so heavy (no strong bearing down and able to perform multiple repetitions) in order to enhance muscle tone and strength without building muscle mass dramatically. Low resistance aerobic exercises such as running, jogging, biking, etc are very good as well. 

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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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