Guest Author - Jim Lowrance
Previous to this article, I wrote several a few months ago on the “Mitral Valve Prolapse” subject. I did mention in those, the association between this common heart murmur and autoimmune thyroid disease however, I have done more search and research on this connection and have found no less than five highly reputable research groups reporting on this association. What does this mean for thyroid patients? The medical reports themselves state that this fact demonstrates the importance for thyroid patients in being tested for this heart murmur and some of the research states the possibility that MVP also has an autoimmune component to it or that it may be an autoimmune disease itself. While many patients with this heart abnormality do not experience symptoms, those who do are termed as having “Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome” (MVPS), the syndrome aspect, being a reference to the array of symptoms it can cause.
The symptoms of MVPS include:
Dizziness upon first standing
Wide swings in blood pressure
Fatigue and exercise intolerance
Shortness of breath, especially upon lying flat
Spells of racing heart, skipped beats and flutters
Anxiety and depression
Some of the symptoms related to this heart murmur, are a result of what is called “dysautonomia”, meaning the involuntary nervous system becomes slightly imbalanced, causing a failure in blood pressure regulation and an imbalance in other involuntary bodily functions.
It is very likely that people who already have MVP but who also experience the onset of autoimmune thyroid disease (Graves’ or Hashimoto’s), will see the MVP/MVPS worsen in symptom manifestations. It is also possible that thyroid autoimmunity itself, serves as a trigger for causing MVPS. This must be considered as a possibility because medical studies have shown the condition to be very common in thyroid patients, as opposed to control groups (non thyroid disease participants).
Professor Bell, director of the endocrine clinic at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham, AL has reported finding MVP present in 41% of patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and in 41% of Graves’ Disease patients who were studied. (WebMD)
Professor M.E. Evangelopoulou and colleagues from Alexandra Hospital at Athens University School of Medicine reported an average of 1 in 4 patients with Graves’ and Hashimoto’s, as having comorbid (associated) MVP. None of the healthy people in the control group without thyroid disease were found to have MVP. (title: Heart Valve Defect Common in Patients With Thyroid Disease)
The American Journal of Psychiatry published a study in 1987 that states there is strongly confirmed association between panic attacks, mitral valve prolapse, and autoimmune thyroid disorders. (title: Mitral valve prolapse and thyroid abnormalities in patients with panic attacks)
Several studies are also published on the National Institutes of Health-National Library of Medicine medical research website. One of the studies states that “the prevalence of mitral valve prolapse is significantly increased in patients with autoimmune disorders of the thyroid gland, when compared to normals and nonautoimmune conditions” (title: Prevalence of mitral valve prolapse in chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis and nongoitrous hypothyroidism.)
Another important aspect to this subject is the fact that thyroid patients, who have MVP/MVPS, may in fact confuse the symptoms of the heart murmur with unresolved thyroid disease symptoms. Some medical sources out there also state that people with MVPS may sometimes be diagnosed as having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Another connection regarding CFS is the fact that people suffering the condition often have dysautonomia which is also common in MVP.
I see in this subject of MVP being strongly associated with autoimmune thyroid disease, the importance in recognizing how commonly comorbid some conditions are and the importance in considering these connections when treated thyroid patients are not experiencing the expected symptom relief. Doctors should recognize the need in testing for MVPS in these patients whose unresolved symptoms match those for the condition.
(See my related articles in the “related links” section below).