Mitral valve prolapse historical perspective

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Historical Perspective

The term mitral valve prolapse was coined by J. Michael Criley in 1966 and gained acceptance over the other descriptor of "billowing" of the mitral valve, as originally described by JB Barlow.[1]. Barlow had postulated that mitral valve prolapse was due to an aneurysm of the mitral leaflet and Criley demonstrated that it was instead due to displacement of the leaflet that led to the condition.

For many years, mitral valve prolapse was a poorly understood anomaly associated with a wide variety of both related and seemingly unrelated signs and symptoms, including late systolic murmurs, inexplicable panic attacks, and polythelia (extra nipples). Recent studies suggest that these symptoms were incorrectly linked to MVP because the disorder was simply over-diagnosed at the time. Continuously-evolving criteria for diagnosis of MVP with echocardiography have made the diagnosis more rigorous and specific. As a result, there may have been many patients who would not currently be classified as having MVP who were included in original studies of the disorder and its prevalence. In fact, some modern studies report that as many as 55% of the population would be diagnosed with MVP if older, less specific criteria for the diagnosis of MVP, such as M-mode echocardiography—were applied today.

In recent years, new objective diagnostic criteria for MVP have been proposed based upon two- and three-dimensional echocardiography. The disorder has also been classified into a number of subtypes with respect to these echocardiographic criteria.


  1. Barlow JB, Bosman CK. (1966). "Aneurysmal protrusion of the posterior leaflet of the mitral valve. An auscultatory-electrocardiographic syndrome". Am Heart J. 71 (2): 166–78. PMID 4159172.

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