Heart murmurs are often described as a swooshing or swishing sound due to turbulent blood flow through the heart valves or near the heart. Murmurs are audible through a stethoscope and be described as either harmless or abnormal. Abnormal murmurs may suggest abnormalities within the heart. An individual may develop a heart murmur later in life or may be born with it. An individual born with a heart murmur is said to have a congenital heart defect and effects 1% of children.
Innocent murmurs are harmless do not require any treatment. These types if murmurs may subside over time or be present throughout. Innocent murmurs often develop during exercise and pregnancy when blood flows more rapidly through the heart. Abnormal murmurs, such as those associated with congenital heart defect or heart valve disease, present a serious condition to the individual and require follow up testing to determine the cause and treatment thereof. There are multiple factors involving heart defects that cause an individual to develop or be born with a heart murmur.
An individual who suffers from abnormal heart murmurs may present with the following signs and symptoms:
Once a murmur has been detected or is suspected, a doctor is able to identify a heart murmur by listening to your heartbeat through a stethoscope. The doctor listens for loudness, location, and timing of the murmur to determine whether it is harmless or abnormal. If an abnormal murmur is suspected, you will be referred to a cardiologist who will then perform an electrocardiogram (ECG) or echogram to identify heart rhythm or structural damages which may be causing the murmurs.