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Mitral Valve Prolapse - What Causes It?
Can Diet Changes Help?

Hyaluronic Acid as a Clue

 

Contents:

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Overview

 

Mitral valve prolapse is a common condition occurring in approximately 4 - 18% of the population. It is defined as an abnormality of the mitral valves of the heart in which one or both mitral valve flaps close incompletely, often producing either a click or murmur. Conditions linked to MVP include magnesium deficiencies, increased catecholamine productions, anxiety, depression, migraines, allergies and asthma.

Interesting facts about the disorder include:

Some people, especially underweight women, have what is known as MVP syndrome. Besides mitral valve prolapse, the symptoms of this syndrome often include hypermobility, flat feet, pectus excavatum, scoliosis, low body weight, anxiety attacks and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

MVP is linked to a variety of genetic disorders including Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, osteogenesis imperfecta, Stickler syndrome and Marfan syndrome. Approximately 75% of the people with Marfan syndrome have MVP. Some researchers think mitral valve prolapse syndrome is a mild form of a connective tissue disorder, similar to Marfan syndrome.

People with Down syndrome also often have mitral valve prolapse.

Even in people without the entire MVP syndrome, isolated mitral valve prolapse is still linked to:

Up to 75% of the people with fibromyalgia have the disorder.

MVP can occur as a result of rheumatic fever.

So how do these findings all fit together? Quite logically, actually. The associations above leave us with a lot of interesting clues to what causes MVP. If you look at the studies on PubMed surrounding mitral valve prolapse, with an eye for the big picture, there may be some perfectly logical reasons for all of these factors, as explained below. These clues all fit together like pieces from a puzzle. You just have to think about them logically, do a little research and put the pieces in order to see how they all interrelate.

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Mitral Valve Prolapse: The Links to Magnesium Deficiency

Though they do not appear to be widely known, there are a wide variety of medical research studies from various parts of the world that link MVP to magnesium deficiencies, and/or that show improvement of MVP symptoms from magnesium treatment. These studies include:

A study in Denmark showed that Cavalier King Charles spaniels frequently have both MVP and low magnesium levels.

A study in Paris found a link between magnesium deficiency, latent tetany, hyperventilation syndrome, spasmophilia, chronic fatigue syndrome, neurocirculatory asthenia and mitral valve prolapse syndrome.

Russian researchers found that patients with mitral valve prolapse appeared to suffer from magnesium deficiency. Magnesium therapy completely or partially reduced the symptoms in more than half the patients.

In a study published in 2004, researchers in Sweden found that the magnesium concentration in lysates of lymphocytes was significantly lower in the patients with mitral valve prolapse syndrome than in healthy controls, suggesting that "magnesium deficiency may be part of the mechanisms of the mitral valve prolapse syndrome."

A paper in the journal, Magnesium, noted that magnesium deficiency hinders the mechanism by which fibroblasts degrade defective collagen, increases circulating catecholamines, predisposes to cardiac arrhythmias, thromboembolic phenomena and dysregulation of the immune and autonomic nervous systems. The paper authors noted that magnesium therapy provides relief of MVP symptoms.

Another paper from the journal, Magnesium, found that out of the 24 patients with MVP who underwent 16 weeks of treatment with magnesium 29.2% became asymptomatic between the 4th and 12th weeks, in 45.8% one or two symptoms of a psychic nature persisted (e.g. anxiety, depressive tendency), and the remaining 25% showed an improvement, albeit, a less marked one.

A 1985 study found that in a group of patients with MVP, low magnesium levels were found to be statistically significant. The researchers assumed magnesium to have an important role particularly in causing the rhythm and neuropsychic disturbances in pathogenesis of mitral valve prolapse.

In a 1975 study in France, researchers reviewed the role of the low erythrocyte (cellular) magnesium in MVP.

Here is a good article on MVP and magnesium: Magnesium Deficiency in the Pathogenesis of Mitral Valve Prolapse - "Most features of the MVP syndrome can be attributed to direct physiological effects of magnesium deficiency or to secondary effects produced by blockade of EFA desaturation. These include valvular collagen dissolution, ventricular hyperkinesis, cardiac arrhythmias, occasional thromboembolic phenomena. autonomic dysregulation and association with LT, pelvic fibrosis, autoimmune disease, anxiety disorders, allergy and chronic candidiasis."

Many medical web sites state that MVP is a normal variation in the population because it is so common. I'm not so sure this is a valid conclusion. Being common does not mean the same thing as being normal, or even desirable. Thirty percent of the adult U.S. population is obese, however no one is saying that obesity is "normal". There are many conditions such as breast cancer, heart attacks and osteoporosis that are even more common than mitral valve prolapse, but that doesn't mean that any of these conditions are normal, let alone desirable.

Many people in the U.S. and other Western countries do not get the RDA of magnesium, so it actually would be expected then that many people would have signs of magnesium deficiencies. A research paper from France notes that a marginal primary magnesium deficit affects a large proportion of the population (15 to 20%). The study noted that while 6 mg was the RDA for magnesium, most people only took in slightly over 4 mg. In another study from France, 77 per cent of women and 72 per cent of men had dietary magnesium intakes lower than recommended dietary allowances;23 per cent of women and 18 per cent of men consumed less than 2/3 of the magnesium RDA.

Things aren't much better in the U.S. According to a paper from State University of New York, since the turn of this century, there has been a steady and progressive decline of dietary magnesium intake to where much of the Western World population is ingesting less than an optimum RDA. As such, perhaps the high levels of mitral valve prolapse seen these days in the developed, Western countries are indeed common, but not "normal" at all. Perhaps they merely reflect signs of a growing magnesium deficiency among people in developed countries who tend to consume diets high in calcium (which can cause a magnesium imbalance) , high in processed foods and low in magnesium rich foods, such as nuts and vegetables.

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Symptoms

Some of the medical web sites I've looked at say that most people with mitral valve prolapse have no symptoms. This seems to be commonly believed, yet it is not supported by actual studies. If you scan the studies actually done on MVP, there are a wide variety of symptoms commonly associated with the disorder.

Mitral valve prolapse frequently occurs in association with the following conditions in the table below. Interestingly, most of these conditions have also been linked to low magnesium levels, providing a clue that a magnesium deficiency may be a common factor among the disorders. Studies linking these conditions that occur along with MVP to magnesium deficiency are also listed below:

Conditions Linked to

Mitral Valve Prolapse

 

Conditions Linked to

Magnesium Deficiency

Allergies

 

Allergies

Anxiety disorders

 

Anxiety disorders

Excess catecholamines

 

Excess catecholamines

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia

Keratoconus

 

Keratoconus

Migraines

 

Migraines

Myopia (nearsightedness)

Myopia

Sideways spinal curvature

Hypermobility

Pectus excavatum

Scoliosis, hypermobility and pectus excavatum are all features of rickets, which in some cases are magnesium dependent. (Vitamin D needs magnesium to function properly.)
Depression Depression

 

A root cause of a magnesium deficiency could easily be one of the reasons the above symptoms (and many others not listed) commonly occur together and occur along with MVP.

Many of the web sites and articles I've looked at state that a magnesium deficiency is a symptom of mitral valve prolapse. I don't think the evidence supports this statement. As the rest of this web site will continue to explain, there is more evidence and logic supporting the theory that mitral valve prolapse is likely to be a symptom of a magnesium deficiency.

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Mitral Valve Prolapse and Hyaluronic Acid

One interesting fact about MVP is that the heart valves in humans with the condition show abnormalities of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a component of connective tissue that occurs in high amounts in places like the eyes, hearts and joints. What's really interesting is that hyaluronic acid is dependent on a variety of nutrients for its synthesis, and one of these nutrients is magnesium. A reduction in the availability of magnesium has a negative impact on hyaluronic acid production.

So a lack of magnesium impacting hyaluronic acid synthesis, would provide a logical explanation of why:

  • Heart valves in MVP show hyaluronic acid abnormalities. The heart valves probably become defective when the body does not have sufficient magnesium to produce hyaluronic acid. With degraded hyaluronic acid, the valve stretches out and functions suboptimally.
  • Magnesium supplementation often aids in the symptoms of mitral valve prolapse. It's probably because more magnesium makes it easier for the body to make hyaluronic acid which makes for better functioning heart valves.
  • People with Down syndrome commonly have mitral valve prolapse. They also tend to have hyaluronic acid abnormalities, as well as deficiencies of magnesium. People with Down syndrome are also usually low in zinc, another nutrient that impacts hyaluronic acid.
  • People with MVP are usually hypermobile. It may be, at least in part, because they have abnormalities of hyaluronic acid, which can cause their connective tissue to weaken and stretch out.
  • People with Marfan syndrome have both mitral valve prolapse and hyaluronic acid abnormalities.
  • People with fibromyalgia also tend to have mitral valve prolapse. Up to 75% of the people with fibromyalgia have the condition. Interestingly, like people with Down syndrome, they also have hyaluronic acid abnormalities and tend to be low in magnesium.

Hyaluronic acid has been nicknamed by the press as the "key to the fountain of youth" because it has been noted that at least some people who ingest a lot of it in their diets tend to live to ripe old ages. ABC News had a show on hyaluronic acid entitled, "The Village of Long Life: Could Hyaluronic Acid Be an Anti-Aging Remedy?". While it may make for a good TV show, I doubt that the answer to long life is as simple as just hyaluronic acid.

It is interesting to note, however, that hyaluronic acid abnormalities are a key feature of many of the premature aging syndromes, indicating that they may well be a factor in the disorders. People with Down syndrome, who, as noted above, usually have have hyaluronic acid abnormalities, also tend to be afflicted with both premature aging syndromes and mitral valve prolapse. It would be highly logical to consider the possibility that defective hyaluronic acid is the common cause as to why people with Down syndrome develop both conditions and that their low levels of magnesium and zinc are causative factors in their hyaluronic acid abnormalities.

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MVP, Hyaluronic Acid and Hyaluronidase

People often develop mitral valve prolapse and other heart ailments after contracting rheumatic fever. It may be in part because the bacteria that cause rheumatic fever emit an enzyme called hyaluronidase. Hyaluronidase breaks down hyaluronic acid. By dissolving the associations between the hyaluronic acid cells in connective tissue, bacteria can move through tissues that would otherwise pose a barrier to the spread of the organism. So if bacteria enter the body by breaking down hyaluronic acid in heart valves, then that would provide a logical explanation of why the valves then become defective.

The herb echinacea is said to be helpful in combating cold and viruses, in part because it inhibits the activity of the enzyme hyaluronidase. This anti-hyaluronidase action is involved in regeneration of connective tissue destroyed during infection and in the elimination of pathogenic organisms creating the infection.

A lack of hyaluronic acid would provide a logical explanation why people with connective tissue disorders not only have many symptoms linked to defective connective tissue, such as lax joints and stretched out heart valves, but also why they tend to have a high rate of bacterial and viral infections. It would also explain why symptoms of MVP often appear or increase after a viral illness. If a person's hyaluronic acid is less than robust, perhaps this make it easier for bacteria to break through the protective hyaluronic acid barrier.

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Mitral Valve Prolapse: Is Magnesium a Cure?

Many people with mitral valve prolapse respond to magnesium treatment, but some do not. However, this doesn't mean magnesium isn't a factor in MVP, it just means there may be more than one factor involved in the disorder. Hyaluronic acid depends upon other nutrients, too, like zinc, and there are other factors that degrade hyaluronic acid besides hyaluronidase, such as cigarette smoke. Since there are multiple causes of hyaluronic acid abnormalities, in turn it would be logical to expect there to be multiple causes of mitral valve prolapse. (See my sections on zinc and hyaluronic acid for more on this topic.)

See my section on Finding a Nutrition Oriented Physician for more information on nutrition oriented doctors and labs that do cellular (the most sensitive type) of magnesium deficiency testing.

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Summary

If we put all of the clues together about mitral valve prolapse, then there are some highly logical ways in which the data fit together. In the chart in my next section, Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome: Symptoms and Diet Treatments, I've assembled information gathered from a variety of different studies on PubMed and put them all together into a logical scenario. It is probably a highly simplified version compared to reality, however, it does provide logical explanations for many of the features we know about MVP.

If the root cause of mitral valve prolapse was in fact degraded hyaluronic acid and/or an excess of hyaluronidase, an enzyme that breaks down hyaluronic acid, then everything we know about the disorder would make sense. It would explain why mitral valve prolapse is commonly, but not always, linked to magnesium deficiencies, why MVP occurs as a result of rheumatic fever and why people with disorders like Down syndrome, Marfan syndrome and/or fibromyalgia often have both mitral valve prolapse and hyaluronic acid abnormalities, too. I don't think there is anything we know about mitral valve prolapse and its associations that doesn't fit in with this model, thus providing a pretty good clue that is on the right track, and that hyaluronic acid is indeed most likely a significant factor in mitral valve prolapse.

 

 

Related sections of interest:

Treating MVP Symptoms with Diet

An Overlooked Cause of Heart Palpitations

More Causes of Calcium Deposits

 

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