Heart Murmur

A heart murmur is an unusual sound during heartbeat, and may range from very faint to very loud. Typical noises include a blowing, whooshing, or rasping during a heartbeat.

Symptoms/ Diagnosis

Most heart murmurs are harmless and do not cause any symptoms or problems. These are known as innocent murmurs, and do not require treatment.

Some murmurs, however, indicate an underlying heart condition, like heart valve disease. Murmurs caused by problems with heart function are called abnormal murmurs.  Most heart murmurs in children are caused by congenital heart defects, or problems with the heart's structure that are present at birth.

Physicians diagnose heart murmurs by listening to your heart through a stethoscope placed over your chest. They may also choose to take a EKG, Echocardiogram, or cardiogram if they suspect your murmur is being causing by a more serious problem.

If you have a heart murmur, and have any of the following symptoms, it may be a warning sign that you have a more serious condition:

  • Poor eating and abnormal growth (in infants)
  • Shortness of breath, which may occur only with physical exertion
  • Excessive sweating with no clear cause
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • A bluish color on the skin, especially on the fingers and lips

Treatment

Treatment for a heart murmur depends on the cause and the severity. Most of the time, treatment isn’t necessary, unless a murmur is abnormal and there is an underlying condition. In those cases, the doctor will treat the condition.

Some heart murmur causes, like heart valve disease, may require medication to reduce symptoms or surgery. Children with heart murmurs caused by congenital defects also may require medication or surgery depending on the severity.

Other conditions, such as anemia or hyperthyroidism, can cause heart murmurs that aren't related to heart disease, but treating them can also fix heart murmurs.

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