Heart murmur (patient information)
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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. ; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Nuha Al-Howthi, MD
Heart murmurs are sounds made by turbulent blood in your heart. These sounds can be heard with a stethoscope. A normal heartbeat makes two sounds like "lub-dup". Heart murmurs can be present at birth or develop later in life. A heart murmur isn't a disease but it may indicate an underlying heart problem. Treatment, if needed, is directed at the cause of your heart murmur.
What are the symptoms of Heart murmur?
- harmless heart murmur you likely won't have any symptoms and your doctor may discover it when listening to your heart with a stethoscope.
- presence of this symptoms indicate heart problem:
- fingertips and lips appear blue
- Swelling or sudden weight gain
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic cough
- Enlarged liver
- Enlarged neck veins
- Poor appetite and failure to grow normally (in infants)
- Heavy sweating with minimal or no exertion
- Chest pain
What causes of heart murmur?
- If it is innocent murmur that means a normal heart. it is common in newborns and children.
- An abnormal heart murmur is more serious. In children, usually the cause congenital heart disease. In adults, it is due to acquired heart valve problems.
Innocent heart murmurs
- Physical activity or exercise
- Not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen (anemia)
- An increase in the amount of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism)
Abnormal heart murmurs
- In children the cause mostly due to structural problems of the heart (congenital heart defects). examples:
- Holes in the heart.
- Abnormal blood flow between the heart chambers or blood vessels(shunt)
- Heart valve abnormalities. Congenital heart valve abnormalities are present at birth, but sometimes aren't discovered until much later in life.
- In older children or adults causes of abnormal heart murmurs include infections or conditions that damage the structures of the heart for example:
- Hardening or thickening of valves, as in mitral stenosis or aortic valve stenosis, can occur as you age.
- Endocarditis. This infection of the inner lining of your heart and valves when bacteria or other germs lodge in your heart. endocarditis if left untreated can destroy your heart valves in people who already have heart valve abnormalities.
- Rheumatic fever. rare in the United States.
Who is at highest risk?
- Family history of a heart defect.
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension).
- Infection of the lining of the heart (endocarditis),
- Factors that increase your baby's risk of developing a heart murmur include:
- Illnesses during pregnancy. such as uncontrolled diabetes or a rubella infection.
- Taking certain medications or illegal drugs during pregnancy.
- Heart murmurs are usually detected by your doctor when listens to your heart using a stethoscope.
- Additional tests include:
- Chest X-ray. shows an image of your heart, lungs and blood vessels.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG).
- Cardiac catheterization.
When to seek urgent medical care?
- Most heart murmurs aren't serious, but if you think you or your child has a heart murmur, make an appointment to see your family doctor.
- Get medical help if you feel: Chest pain ,Breathlessness, fatigue, or fainting for no reason, heart palpitations.
- An innocent heart murmur doesn't require treatment because the heart is normal. If the result is an illness, such as fever or hyperthyroidism, the murmurs will go away once that condition is treated.
- If you has an abnormal heart murmur, treatment may not indicated. Your doctor may want to monitor the condition over time. If treatment is necessary, it depends on what heart problem is causing the murmur and may include medications or surgery.
- To reduce your risk of developing an abnormal heart murmur by following:
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Exercise regularly.
- Quit smoking.
- Cut down on alcohol.
- Keep pre-existing illnesses, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol, under control.
- Maintain good dental hygiene to prevent bacteria from getting into the bloodstream.
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
- Innocent heart murmurs, the prognosis is excellent. For people with other types of heart murmurs, the prognosis depends on the type of heart problem and its severity. In general, even when heart surgery is required, the prognosis is good.