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What you need to know
This common heart condition caused by a valve abnormality can lead to occasional breathing problems. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may keep your MVP symptoms in check:
- Shake on the salt
- Unless otherwise instructed by your doctor, try more salt in your diet to help prevent symptoms associated with MVP, such as heart palpitations or anxiety
- Monitor your magnesium
- Visit your doctor for a simple blood test to find out if taking 500 mg a day of magnesium might help control symptoms
- Ease the stress
- Avoid stress as much as possible and develop coping skills to help prevent stress-related symptoms
These recommendations are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Continue reading the full mitral valve prolapse article for more in-depth, fully-referenced information on medicines, vitamins, herbs, and dietary and lifestyle changes that may be helpful.
About mitral valve prolapse
The mitral valve is one of the four valves separating chambers of the heart. Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a common and occasionally serious condition in which the cusp or cusps of the mitral valve bulge into one of the heart chambers during the heart's contraction. This bulging is caused by abnormalities in the valve's structure. When serious, mitral valve prolapse may progress to mitral regurgitation, where the incompetent valve can no longer keep blood from leaking backwards into the wrong chamber of the heart.
Product ratings for mitral valve prolapse
What are the symptoms?
Most people with MVP experience no symptoms. Some may experience difficulty breathing during exertion or when lying down, tremor, fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, and fainting. Some develop dull chest pain, palpitations (awareness of the heartbeat), anxiety, and other symptoms associated with the "fight or flight" response. When MVP causes these symptoms, it is referred to as dysautonomia syndrome.
Dietary changes that may be helpful
In people who have dysautonomia, low salt intake may be part of the problem. Therefore, unless there is another health problem (such as high blood pressure ) that is worsened by high salt intake, people with MVP should not restrict the amount of salt in the diet.1
Lifestyle changes that may be helpful
People with dysautonomia symptoms should avoid stressful situations and should work on techniques for coping with stress.
Vitamins that may be helpful
Magnesium deficiency has been proposed as one cause of the symptoms that occur in association with MVP.2 In a study of people with severe MVP symptoms, blood levels of magnesium were low in 60% of cases. Those people with low magnesium levels participated in a double-blind trial, in which they received a placebo or magnesium (500 mg per day for one week, then about 335 mg per day for four weeks). People receiving magnesium experienced a significant reduction in symptoms of weakness, chest pain, anxiety, shortness of breath, and palpitations.3
In one report, deficient levels of L-carnitine were found in five consecutive people with MVP.4 One of these people was given L-carnitine (1 gram three times per day for four months) and experienced a complete resolution of the symptoms associated with MVP.
Are there any side effects or interactions?
Refer to the individual supplement for information about any side effects or interactions.
- Frederickson L. Confronting Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome. New York: Warner Books, 1992.
- Galland LD, Baker SM, McLellan RK. Magnesium deficiency in the pathogenesis of mitral valve prolapse. Magnesium 1986;5:165-74.
- Lichodziejewska B, Klos J, Rezler J, et al. Clinical symptoms of mitral valve prolapse are related to hypomagnesemia and attenuated by magnesium supplementation. Am J Cardiol 1997;79:768-72.
- Trivellato M, de Palo E, Gatti R, et al. Carnitine deficiency as the possible etiology of idiopathic mitral valve prolapse: case study with speculative annotation. Texas Heart Inst J 1984;11:370-6.
Last Review: 01-21-2009
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The information presented in Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires August 2010.