If you have heard the doctor say the words “heart murmur”, you might wonder what that means exactly. 

anatomical heart with ekg pulse

 

Heart murmurs are sounds that are made during your heartbeat cycle and they sound like a whooshing or swishing sound. The sound is heard through a stethoscope and it’s caused by turbulent blood in or near the heart. Individuals can be born with heart murmurs or they can develop later on in life. They are not a disease and many times do not require treatment, but they should be monitored, as they could be an indicator of another heart condition.

What are the symptoms of a heart murmur? 

Innocent heart murmurs generally do not have any signs or symptoms. An abnormal heart murmur may also cause no other obvious symptoms, except for the sound that your doctor hears when listening to your heartbeat. However, if you are having any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor right away, as these could be signs of a serious heart condition:

  • Chronic cough
  • Swelling or sudden weight gain
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged neck veins
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Bluish skin, especially on lips and fingertips
  • Heavy sweating with minimal or no exertion 

What types of heart murmurs are there?

There are two types of heart murmurs: innocent murmurs and abnormal murmurs. 

An innocent murmur can happen when blood is flowing faster than normal through the heart. This may be caused by fever, lack of healthy red blood cells, physical activity, phases of rapid growth, or hyperthyroidism. 

Abnormal heart murmurs in children are generally caused by congenital heart disease and in adults, they’re usually because of valve problems that have developed over time. Congenital defects that can cause murmurs could be from holes in the heart or abnormal blood flow between the heart chambers or blood vessels. Or, they could be caused by heart valve problems, including valves that don’t allow enough blood flow through, or valves that don’t close properly and leak. Sometimes abnormal murmurs could be caused by heart infections such as endocarditis or hardening and thickening of valves through calcification. 

Most of the time, heart murmurs are not serious and won’t require any treatment, but you should talk in detail with your doctor about them if your child has been diagnosed with one. For an appointment and more information on this condition, contact our team of cardiologists at Pediatric Cardiology Center of Oregon today.