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Understanding Heart Murmurs: What’s That Sound?

Have you ever heard of a heart murmur? If not, you’re not alone! Heart murmurs are relatively common, affecting up to 50% of children and 10% of adults. While some heart murmurs are harmless, others may be a sign of a more serious heart condition.

What is a Heart Murmur?

A heart murmur is a whooshing or swishing sound that can be heard during a heartbeat. The sound is caused by turbulent (rough) blood flow through the heart valves or near the heart.

The heart has four valves that open and close with each heartbeat to control the flow of blood. These valves are:

  • Mitral valve: Between the left atrium and left ventricle
  • Aortic valve: Between the left ventricle and the aorta

What Causes Heart Murmurs?

There are many possible causes of heart murmurs. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Congenital heart defects: Heart defects that are present at birth
  • Rheumatic fever: A serious complication of strep throat that can damage the heart valves
  • Age-related changes: The heart valves can become stiff and leaky with age
  • High blood pressure: High blood pressure can damage the heart valves
  • Pregnancy: Pregnancy can put extra stress on the heart valves

Types of Heart Murmurs

There are two main types of heart murmurs:

  • Innocent murmurs: Innocent murmurs are harmless and do not require treatment. They are often caused by normal turbulence in the blood flow through the heart.
  • Pathological murmurs: Pathological murmurs are caused by a heart condition. They may require treatment or monitoring.

Symptoms of Heart Murmurs

Most people with heart murmurs do not have any symptoms. However, some people may experience symptoms such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

When to See a Doctor

If you have been diagnosed with a heart murmur, it is important to see your doctor regularly to monitor your condition. You should also see your doctor if you experience any new symptoms.

Treating Heart Murmurs

The treatment for a heart murmur will depend on the cause of the murmur. Innocent murmurs do not require treatment. Pathological murmurs may require treatment or monitoring. Treatment options may include:

  • Medication: Medication can be used to control symptoms such as high blood pressure or heart rate.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be necessary to repair or replace a damaged heart valve.

Living with a Heart Murmur

Most people with heart murmurs can live normal, healthy lives. However, it is important to see a doctor regularly to monitor the murmur and the underlying heart condition.

If you have a heart murmur, it is important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment and follow-up care. You should also make lifestyle changes to improve your heart health, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight.

With proper treatment and lifestyle changes, you can live a long and healthy life with a heart murmur.

Your heart is important. Don’t ignore a heart murmur

If you have a heart murmur, it’s important to see a doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment plan. At Paradise Valley Hospital, we have a team of experienced cardiologists who can provide you with the care you need. Schedule an appointment today.

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