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Heart Murmur

What is a Heart Murmur?

A heart murmur is a swishing or a whistling sound that the doctor hears when he listens to your heart. The doctor uses a tool called a stethoscope to listen to the heart.

A murmur is usually present when there is a heart valve problem. The doctor will perform a variety of tests to determine what kind of valve problem you have and if the valve problem is serious. Some of the tests performed are: an echocardiogram, an electrocardiogram, a chest x-ray, or cardiac catheterization.

Most of the time heart murmurs are normal and do not indicate that there is anything wrong with the heart. However, talk with your doctor about treatments and precautions.

What Causes a Heart Murmur?

There are many different causes of heart murmurs. They can be caused by a heart attack, high blood pressure, rheumatic fever, pregnancy, fever, thyrotoxicosis or anemia. Thyrotoxicosis is a condition caused by an overactive thyroid gland.

Types of Heart Murmurs

There are two main types of heart murmurs: diastolic and systolic. A diastolic murmur occurs when the heart muscle relaxes between beats. It occurs after the second heart sound. A systolic murmur occurs between the first and second heart sounds.

What is a Heart Valve?

A valve is a 'one way door' that keeps blood moving in your heart. If there is a problem with a valve, the heart has to work harder to pump blood to the body.

Heart Valve Problems

Heart Valve disease occurs when a valve doesn't work properly. If a valve doesn't open all the way, less blood can move through the smaller opening. If a valve doesn't close tightly, blood may leak backward. These problems can cause the heart to work harder to pump the same amount of blood. Or blood may back up in the lungs or body because it's not moving efficiently through the heart.

When the valve doesn't open completely, it is called Stenosis. When it doesn't close completely it is called Insufficiency or Regurgitation.

Heart Sounds

The heart beat usually makes two sounds: Lub and Dub. Lub is the first sound and Dub is the second sound. These sounds follow each other and are not separated by extra sounds.

A heart murmur will be heard as a swishing or a whistling sound in addition to the normal Lub-Dub sound. Heart murmurs have different sounds. The sounds can help indicate whether the murmur is normal or abnormal.

Bad News about Heart Murmurs

Some heart murmurs are harmless. However, a heart murmur may indicate that there is a heart problem or may be due to normal blood flow. A heart murmur is not a diagnosis or disease, it is a sign to alert our attention to check if there is anything wrong. Sometimes a heart murmur may be the result of a hole in the heart or a narrowed valve. A hole in the hose allows water to squirt out producing a whistling sound.

Good News about Heart Murmurs

Most of the time heart murmurs are normal and do not indicate that there is anything wrong with the heart.

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