Causes of Panic and Anxiety Attacks: Mitral Valve Prolapse
If the heart is functioning properly the blood flows from the left atrium to the left ventricle quite smoothly because there is a tight seal that closes off the mitral valve preventing the blood from flowing back into the left atrium. However, in mitral valve prolapse, the flaps of the mitral valve do not close properly, allowing blood to leak back into the left atrium.
This can cause heart palpitations, fainting, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Also, 40% of patients with mitral valve prolapse have dysautonomia; an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system (ANS.) The ANS has two parts, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system is what triggers the flight/fight response when there is a threat, and the parasympathetic nervous system is what turns it off when our environment is back to normal.
When the system is out of balance due to mitral valve prolapse, it can trigger panic and anxiety attacks, migraines, fainting spells, and irritable bowel syndrome, which is often associated with generalized anxiety disorder.