What is the mitral valve?
Your heart has four chambers (or “rooms”). The mitral valve controls the flow of blood between 2 of the chambers, called the left atrium and the left ventricle. Normally, when the heart relaxes in between beats, the 2 flaps of the mitral valve swing open to let blood flow from the atrium to the ventricle. The flaps normally open only one way and the blood only flows one way. (See the pictures below.)
What is mitral valve prolapse?
If you have mitral valve prolapse, the flaps of the mitral valve don't work properly. One of the flaps moves back into the atrium when the heart beats. When this happens, blood can flow backwards, from the ventricle back into the atrium.
About 1 in 20 Americans has mitral valve prolapse. People are usually born with it. More women have it than men.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff