Last week, we learned about heart murmurs – What are they? Who gets them? Are they serious? How are they treated? In Part 1-Innocent Heart Murmurs, you learned that there are two types of heart murmurs: innocent heart murmurs.
(innocent heat murmurs are generally not serious and do not require treatment); and abnormal or pathologic heart murmurs (which can be a signal of a serious underlying heart problem). In Part 1, we took a look at Innocent Heart Murmurs. In this Part 2, you’ll focus on learning more about abnormal heart murmurs.
Is an abnormal heart murmur serious?
I know that you’d like to hear a different answer but the only way to respond is simply – it depends. Do you remember from Part 1 that a heart murmur is not heart disease? Since it’s not heart disease, an abnormal heart murmur may be a signal that you have an underlying heart problem or condition which might be quite serious. It’s important that you seek medical attention immediately if you have, or think you may have, an abnormal heart murmur.
What are the symptoms of an abnormal heart murmur?
An abnormal heart murmur may be difficult to diagnose initially because you may or may not experience symptoms. On the one hand, as with the innocent heart murmur, you may have absolutely no symptoms whatsoever and be totally unaware of any problems until your doctor hears the murmur on an exam. However, on the other hand, you may experience numerous symptoms. According to the Mayo Clinic, these symptoms may include: shortness of breath, swelling, blue skin (especially fingertips and lips), chest pain, weight gain (yes ladies, it always comes back to weight doesn’t it?), enlarged liver or neck veins, dizziness, fainting or heavy sweating (with no minimal or no exertion). (Infants may also experience poor appetite or failure to thrive or grow.) If you experience any of these symptoms, then it may be a sign of a serious underlying heart problem.
If I don’t have any symptoms, how does my doctor know if it is an innocent or abnormal heart murmur?