Mitral Valve Prolapse
The mitral valve consists of two flaps (or cusps) located between the upper left chamber (atrium) and lower left chamber (ventricle) of the heart. When your heart beats, this valve opens and closes in a rhythmic pattern, allowing blood to flow in one direction. Mitral valve prolapse occurs when one or both of the flaps are too large or the “strings” attached to the flaps are too long. Because the valve is large and floppy it may not close properly. Instead, the valve may close unevenly causing it to bulge back into the left atrium. As a result, some blood may leak backward from the ventricle into the atrium. This is called regurgitation. Most individuals with mitral valve prolapse do not have regurgitation and only have the heart sounds associated with it. If regurgitation is present, the amount of blood that leaks back into the atrium varies from person to person. In most cases, the amount of backward blood flow is slight and does not cause problems.
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