In the A Woman’s Heart series, we’ve been focusing on heart disease, identifying and recognizing risk factors as well as what we can to do to beat the odds and not become one of the heart disease statistics. This series has been exciting to me (and I hope to all my sisters out there as well) because I’ve been taking a long, hard look at my own life and am making changes. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing!”
I never was much good at card games. I almost always drew the wrong card from the deck. Unfortunately, sometimes there are forms of heart disease, or other heart problems, for which there is either nothing or little we could have done to prevent it. We just simply drew the wrong card from the deck. Heart murmurs fall into the luck-of-the-draw category.
I have to confess that while I knew children were often born with heart murmurs (congenital heart murmurs), I didn’t realize that you can develop a heart murmur later in life. Depending on the type and cause, it might, or might not, be serious. So, how do you know when to be concerned?
What exactly is a heart murmur anyway?
When a doctor listens to your heart with a stethoscope, he is able to hear the sounds of your heart valves closing as the blood moves through the heart. This process is what makes our “heart beat” sound (you know- the “thump-thump” sound). Basically, a heart murmur is a sound that is out of place – doesn’t belong - or is unusual in some manner.
Is a heart murmur a form of heart disease?
No! Not at all. A heart murmur is not a heart disease. Unlike arteriosclerosis, we can’t go on a diet, work out three times a week, take statins, drink pomegranate juice, or do any of those other great proactive things to prevent developing a heart murmur.
Is a heart murmur serious?
Ahhh…. Now that’s the twenty-four thousand dollar question isn’t it? The answer is – it depends. While a heart murmur is not a heart disease, it may indicate that you have some type of undiagnosed heart problem. Whether or not it’s an indicator of a more serious problem depends on what type of heart murmur you have.
What kinds of heart murmurs are there?