Diagnosis

Doctors may diagnose mitral valve prolapse at any age. Your doctor is most likely to diagnose mitral valve prolapse while listening to your heart with a stethoscope during a physical examination.

If you have mitral valve prolapse, your doctor may hear a clicking sound, which is common with this condition. Your doctor may detect a heart murmur, which would be due to mitral regurgitation if it is present.

Other tests that may be used to evaluate your heart may include:

  • Echocardiogram. An echocardiogram is usually done to confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity of your condition. An echocardiogram is a noninvasive ultrasound evaluation of your heart.

    This test uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart. It helps doctors see the flow of blood through your mitral valve and measure the amount of blood leakage (regurgitation).

    You may have a transesophageal echocardiogram. In this test, your doctor inserts a flexible tube with a small device (transducer) attached into your throat and down into your esophagus — the tube that connects the back of your mouth to your stomach. From there, the transducer can be positioned to obtain more-detailed images of your heart.

  • Chest X-ray. A chest X-ray shows a picture of your heart, lungs and blood vessels and can help your doctor make a diagnosis. It can help show if your heart is enlarged.
  • 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 to see if mitral valve regurgitation limits your ability to exercise. In a stress test, you exercise or take certain medications to increase your heart rate and make your heart work harder.

    You may also have a stress test if your doctor is trying to determine if you have another condition such as coronary artery disease.

  • Coronary angiogram. This type of cardiac catheterization uses X-ray imaging to see your heart's blood vessels. It isn't generally used to diagnose mitral valve prolapse, but may reveal the condition when you're being testing for another suspected diagnosis.

    In some cases, your doctor may recommend a coronary angiogram and cardiac catheterization to gather more information about the severity of your condition.

    In a cardiac catheterization procedure, doctors insert a catheter in an artery in your groin (femoral artery) or in your wrist (radial artery). The catheter is then threaded through your blood vessels to your heart.