Heart Murmur

Heart Murmur

What is it?

A normal heart beat makes two sounds commonly described as “lub-dub” which are sounds of the heart valve closing. But if there is a problem, a murmur may be added to the normal “lub-dub” which may sound like a whoosh or swish which would then sound like “lub-dub-swish”. A heart murmur isn’t a disease but may represent an underlying heart condition.

Causes, Symptoms and Risk Factors

Murmurs can occur when blood is forced to flow through a narrowed valve (stenosis) or when it leaks back through a defective valve (regurgitation). Murmurs are classified as innocent or abnormal. A person with an innocent murmur has a normal heart which is common in newborns and children. An innocent murmur can occur when blood flows more rapidly through the heart as a result of: 

  • Pregnancy
  • Anemia
  • Fever
  • Overactive thyroid gland (hyperactive thyroidism)
  • Physical activity or exercise
  • Aging

An abnormal murmur may be present at birth or develop due to: 

If an innocent murmur is present, there will most likely be no signs or symptoms. However, if symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Cyanosis (Bluish coloring of the skin or fingertips)
  • Swelling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged neck veins
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Heavy sweating with little exertion
  • Poor appetite and failure for infants to grow properly
  • Unexplained weight gain

When these signs are present, it may indicate a heart problem. 

Our Services (Tests, Procedures and Treatments)

In most cases, doctors can hear a heart murmur by using a stethoscope. To find out if a heart murmur is innocent or caused by another heart problem, doctors may order tests or perform the following procedures:

Treatment

An innocent heart murmur generally doesn’t require treatment because the heart is normal. If the innocent murmur is a result of an underlying condition such as a fever or high blood pressure, the murmurs will go away once the condition is treated. 

An abnormal heart murmur may not require treatment but if it is caused by heart or valve disease, medicines or surgery may be needed.

St. Luke's Heart & Vascular