beth israel deaconess medical center a harvard medical school teaching hospital

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Watchful Monitoring

No Symptoms or Problems

Most people with MVP don't have symptoms, don't have problems and won't need treatment. Even people with symptoms may not need treatment. Your doctor may simply recommend monitoring every three to five years.


Controls Troublesome Symptoms

If you have troublesome symptoms, such as palpitations or chest pain, your doctor may recommend that you control them with medications such as beta-blockers.

If you have enlarged or floppy leaflets, you have a slightly higher risk of developing a valve infection known as Endocarditis. Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias) can also occur in people with mitral valve prolapse.

Surgical Therapies

Those with significant regurgitation are likely to need treatment, either with medications, with surgery or with both.

Only about one in 10 patients with MVP eventually requires surgery. Surgery typically is needed if prolapse becomes severe or is associated with torn chordae strands or floppy leaflets. Chordae strands may become torn as a result of heart attack, heart valve infection or trauma.

Mitral Valve Repair

Fixes Faulty Valve

Mitral valve repair is an operation designed to fix the faulty valve. Repairing, as opposed to replacing, the abnormal valve is the goal.

Less Likely to Weaken the Heart

Repair is less likely to weaken the heart, carries a lower risk of infection, and decreases the need for the lifelong use of blood-thinning medications. We are successful in valve repair for mitral regurgitation in 95 percent of cases.

In valve repair, an incision is made in the breastbone to expose the heart. An alternative approach that allows access to the heart through one or more small incisions in the side of the chest wall may be used in some patients. This minimally-invasive approach can result in a smaller incision or scar, reduced blood loss, and a shorter hospital stay.


A mitral valve repair operation involves surgery on the leaflets as well as an annuloplasty. In an annuloplasty, a prosthetic ring is used to tighten the annulus (ring) around the valve through which the leaflets connect to the heart muscle.

Mitral Valve Replacement

At the CardioVascular Institute, approximately 95 percent of patients needing mitral valve surgery for mitral regurgitation have their leaky valve repaired. If repairing the valve isn't an option, your surgeon will recommend valve replacement.

Faulty Valve Replaced with an Artificial or Prosthetic Valve

In this operation, the faulty valve is replaced with an artificial or prosthetic valve. Prosthetic valves can either be tissue or mechanical.

  • Tissue valves are either porcine (pig) or bovine (calf). If you receive a tissue valve you are less likely to require blood thinning medications. However, these types of valves are more likely to weaken and may need to be replaced after 10-15 years.
  • Mechanical valves can last a lifetime. Because the devices are made of a carbon polymer similar to graphite, however, recipients must take blood-thinning medications for life to prevent the development of blood clots.

Post Op

After surgery, you will typically stay in the intensive care unit for one to two days, with a total hospital stay of about four to five days.