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Diagnosis

Sounds Heard Through a Stethoscope

Mitral valve prolapse is most often found during a routine physical exam when your doctor uses a stethoscope to listen to your heart.  He or she will listen for a certain "click" and/or murmur.

Clicking Sound

Abnormal valve leaflets can make a clicking sound as they shut.

Murmur or Whoosing Sound

And if the valve is leaking blood back into the atrium, a murmur or whooshing sound may be heard.

Diagnostic Tests

However, clicking and whooshing sounds are not heard all the time. For this reason, diagnostic tests may also be needed to diagnose MVP. Such tests also would be needed to confirm a diagnosis suspected if such sounds are heard through a stethoscope.

Echocardiogram

This painless test -- the most useful test for diagnosing these conditions -- uses sound waves to create a moving picture of your heart. It provides information about the size and shape of your heart and how well your heart chambers and valves are functioning. The test can also identify areas of poor blood flow to the heart, areas of heart muscle that are not contracting normally, and prior injury to the heart muscle as a result of poor blood flow. 

Echocardiography also can be performed by placing a probe down your esophagus (the tube leading from your mouth to your stomach) to get a better look at the mitral valve. This is called a transesophageal echocardiogram or TEE.

Doppler Ultrasound

This painless test also uses sound waves to show the speed and direction of blood flow through the mitral valve. It can be given as part of the echocardiogram test.

Chest X-ray

This is used to look for fluid in your lungs or to see if your heart is enlarged. Unlike the above two tests, exposure to radiation is involved.

ECG/EKG Waves

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

This test charts the electrical activity of your heart and can show abnormal heartbeats, heart muscle damage and enlargement of the heart.

In this test, sticky patches with electrodes are attached to your skin to track the electrical pulses given off by your heart. An ECG translates the heart's electrical activity into line tracings on paper. The test gives information about heart rhythm and size.

Holter Monitor

This portable device to record a continuous ECG can be worn for 24 to 72 hours. It is used to detect intermittent heart rhythm irregularities that may be associated with valve abnormalities.