Differences in Mitral Valve Prolapse between Men and Women. Ann Intern Med. 2008;149:I-36. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-149-11-200812020-00001
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2008;149(11):I-36.
Heart valves are thin tissues that form the opening between the different sections (chambers) of the heart. The valves keep blood flowing in the right direction through the heart. The valves open when blood is supposed to flow to the next chamber and close afterwards. The mitral valve is the valve between the left atrium to the left ventricle.
Mitral valve prolapse (MVP) is a condition in which the valve is baggy and balloons out. This ballooning causes the valve to make a characteristic snapping sound. When MVP becomes mores severe, blood can flow backward through the valve because the valve does not close completely. This condition is called mitral regurgitation. Severe mitral regurgitation can lead to problems because the heart does not pump blood effectively. Treatment of severe mitral regurgitation involves surgical replacement of the valve. Mitral valve prolapse is more common in women than in men. However, when MVP does occur in men, it tends to be more severe than in women.
To compare the characteristics and outcomes of MVP n men and women.
The researchers studied 4461 women and 3768 men in whom MVP was diagnosed on an echocardiogram obtained for some other reason between 1989 and 1998.
The researchers compared features of MVP and used medical and death records to collect information about what happened to the men and women over time.
When the researchers examined the features of MVP on the echocardiograms, they found that, compared with men, women generally had different and usually less severe valve abnormalities. Among patients with no or mild mitral regurgitation, women lived longer than men did, but among men and women who had severe mitral regurgitation, survival was better for men than for women. They also found that, among people with severe mitral regurgitation, men were more likely than women to have surgery. However, men and women who had surgery had similar survival.
The study involved only 1 clinic, and the types of patients and the type of care received for MVP may be different in other places. The researchers did not have information on why women with severe mitral regurgitation did not have surgery as frequently as men did.
There are sex-based difference in the severity, outcomes, and treatment of MVP in men and women. Further research is needed to understand the reasons for these differences.
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Cardiology, Valvular Heart Disease.
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