Doctors may diagnose mitral valve prolapse at any age. Your doctor is most likely to detect mitral valve prolapse by listening to your heart using a stethoscope. If you have mitral valve prolapse, your doctor may hear clicking sounds, which are common in mitral valve prolapse. Your doctor may also hear a heart murmur if you have blood leaking backward through your mitral valve (mitral valve regurgitation).
Other tests to diagnose mitral valve prolapse include:
- Echocardiogram. An echocardiogram is usually done to confirm the diagnosis. An echocardiogram is a noninvasive, ultrasound evaluation of your heart. This test uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart and its structures, including the mitral valve itself, and the flow of blood through it. The amount of leakage (regurgitation) can be measured.
- Chest X-ray. An image is created by directing X-rays at your chest and positioning a large piece of photographic film or a digital recording plate against your back. The X-ray machine produces a small burst of radiation that passes through your body and produces an image on the film or digital plate. A chest X-ray shows a picture of your heart, lungs and blood vessels, and can help your doctor make a diagnosis.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG). In this noninvasive test, a technician will place probes on your chest that record the electrical impulses that make your heart beat. An ECG records these electrical signals and can help your doctor detect irregularities in your heart's rhythm and structure, including mitral valve prolapse.
- Stress test. Your doctor may order a stress test, usually a treadmill exercise test, to see if mitral valve regurgitation limits your ability to exercise. You may also have a stress test if you have chest pain and your doctor is trying to see if this is due to mitral valve prolapse or coronary artery disease.
- Cardiac catheterization. If your doctor thinks you have a mitral valve prolapse so severe that you might need surgery, he or she may recommend cardiac catheterization and coronary angiograms before surgery. During a cardiac catheterization, a long, thin, flexible plastic tube (catheter) is inserted into your body. Dye is injected into the blood vessels of your heart. The dye is visible by X-ray machine. The machine rapidly takes a series of X-ray images (angiograms), offering a detailed look at your heart arteries to determine if you need coronary artery bypass at the same time as your valve surgery. Pressures in the heart's chambers may be measured, particularly if there is any concern about high blood pressure in the lung arteries (pulmonary hypertension) that might influence the decision to proceed with surgery.
If you have mitral valve regurgitation but don't have symptoms, your doctor may suggest you return every three to five years for examinations to monitor your condition, depending on how serious your condition is.
Apr. 21, 2011
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