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Mitral Valve Prolapse and Dyspnea

  I am a 32 year old female with MVP.  For the past few years I have noticed
  that on occasion I become short of breath, as if my lungs lose their
  elasticity, making it difficult to take in a deep breath.  Recently, this
  has been occuring more frequently, and although it can occur without any
  exertion whatsoever, it gets worse when I'm exercising.  Sometimes it lasts
  for only a few hours and other times for over a week.  I cannot seem to
  figure out what triggers this, and have come to terms that this just appears
  to come on at anytime.  I went to visit a cardiologist about this, and he
  did not feel it was related to MVP.  He prescribed an echocardiogram and a
  pulmonary function test.  The echo basically showed a minor regurgitation,
  which did not appear to be of any great concern.  However, the PF test
  did show that there appeared to be a decrease in my lung capacity (and at
  the time of the testing my breathing was not even bothering me).  They now
  want to run further pulmonary function studies.  What can be some possible
  causes of decreased lung capacity?  Could it be asthma?  Thank you for your
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Avatar universal

Dear Laurette, thank you for your question.  Mitral valve prolapse (MVP)
can be a worrisome disorder for many people because of the symptoms
associated with it (shortness of breath, palpitations, and chest pains).
Fortunately, these symptoms almost always do not signify serious cardiac
disease and are caused by processes that we don't know too much about.
For a more detailed description of MVP, you should look at the April 2nd
questions in this forum and read the one about MVP.  In your case, however,
I agree with your cardiologist that you may have asthma.  Shortness of
breath with asthma is caused by bronchial muscle constriction which
reduces the diameter of the airways to make it harder for someone to breath.
Asthma can be precipitated by allergies to dusts, pollens, etc.; cold
weather; stress; and exercise.   Pulmonary function tests measure the
ability of the lungs and airways to move air and exchange air in and out.
Since your PFT's were abnormal, your symptoms sound classic for asthma,
and your symptoms were worsened with exercise, my strongest suspicion is
that you have asthma.  Asthma can be treated with inhaled medications that
dilate the airways and reduce the inflammation in the lining of the airways.
Thus, I would consult with your internist or a pulmonologist for further
treatment and testing.  If further testing reveals no asthma, then your
symptoms could be attributed to the MVP but as I previously mentioned, there
wouldn't be much treatment in that case because shortness of breath in MVP
does not appear to be caused by abnormal lungs.  I hope you find this information
Information provided in the heart forum is for general purposes only.
Specific diagnoses and therapies can only be provided by your physician.

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