A heart murmur is an abnormal sound made by turbulent blood flow in the heart. Some adults and many children have incidental heart murmurs that are harmless (benign). At least 30% of children may have an innocent heart murmur at some point during childhood. However, some heart murmurs can signal an underlying heart problem.
Benign heart murmurs usually cause no symptoms. Patients with mitral valve prolapse sometimes complain of vague chest discomfort and other symptoms. It remains unclear whether or not the valvular abnormality is causing the symptoms.
Symptoms of abnormal heart murmurs include:
Shortness of breath
Palpitations (feeling of rapid or irregular heartbeat)
Most benign heart murmurs are diagnosed during the course of a routine physical exam with a stethoscope. Some abnormal heart murmurs are also discovered this way. Other abnormal heart murmurs are discovered initially by their symptoms.
Tests may include:
—a test that records the heart's electrical activity using electrodes attached to the surface of the chest. This does not diagnose the cause of the murmur but can provide other useful information about the condition of the heart.
—an x-ray to determine the approximate size and shape of the heart, and the presence of associated lung swelling (pulmonary edema)
—a test that uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to examine the size, shape, and motion of the heart
—a tube inserted into the heart through an artery (usually in the groin) to detect problems with the heart's structure, function, and blood supply
Blood tests—to check for evidence of a recurrent heart attack or other diseases that may affect the heart (eg, kidney disease, infections, autoimmune conditions)
Benign heart murmurs require no treatment. Treatment of other heart murmurs depends on the underlying cause and extent of the problem.
Medications can either treat the cause of the heart abnormality associated with the murmur or help compensate for its dysfunction:
If you have valvular heart disease, even if you have no symptoms, you may be at risk for endocarditis. It may be necessary to take antibiotics before and after any medical or dental procedure that could allow bacteria to enter your blood stream. Also, never use intravenous drugs.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a