heart of the matter

While writing the previous entry about my broken tooth, I did a quick Google search on “mitral valve prolapse” in order to include a link to information about it. Ever since my murmur was first discovered when I was 16 (though the doctor insisted it was likely congenital but just had been missed by other doctors before then), I’d been told that it was a fairly common defect, and that it wouldn’t have any effect on my life other than the need to take prophylactic courses of antibiotics before dental work, because of the slim possibility otherwise for developing endocarditis. So I rarely gave it another thought, except when filling out medical histories or seeing the dentist.

In the meantime, though, throughout my life I’ve experienced, to varying degrees, a range of other symptoms and syndromes for which my doctors could never find any specific underlying etiology, including cold sweats, chest pain, racing heart, a sense of impending doom, insomnia, shortness of breath, very cold extremities, sometimes with tingling and numbness, dizzyness, lightheadedness, fatigue, orthostatic hypotension and severe headaches, among others. Fortunately, none of these have ever been particularly debilitating in my case, but they’ve certainly ranged from merely annoying, to more distracting, to sometimes quite frightening. This article suggests that such symptoms may in fact be part of an underlying autonomic nervous system disorder of which MVP is merely a physical marker, something no doctor I’ve seen ever has suggested to me. I have no idea if this article is merely a single doctor’s opinion, or if there is a more general consensus (though a casual search already is turning up more concurrences), but it’s so incredibly relieving already just to learn that these other symptoms might not be psychosomatic, as I’d come to fear, but may actually have a physical basis. That possibility alone already makes me feel a great deal better.

One thought on “heart of the matter

  1. I’ve got the same thing, Thom. A thorough physical (which was the last hurrah before I became too old to be covered by my parents’ health insurance) discovered my “heart murmur.” I’m supposed to take antibiotics before visiting the dentist too, but I haven’t marked it down on the forms for my last two dentists because I didn’t want to bother with it. Consequently, I tend not to go to the dentist on a regular enough basis because I’m always afraid it could kill me.

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