At some point, nearly 60% of children have a heart murmur. Parents should not panic, because nearly all of these are technically described as “innocent,” meaning harmless. Unless there is a rare congenital heart defect, most children will eventually outgrow the murmur.
“The murmur refers to an ‘abnormal’ heart sound – swishing or blowing noise,” says McLeod Cardiologist Dr. Evans Holland. “What can be heard through a stethoscope is the sound of a faster-than-normal blood flow through a damaged heart valve.”
INNOCENT VS. ABNORMAL
Why some people develop “innocent” heart murmurs isn’t definitely known. Women will occasionally develop a murmur during pregnancy. They usually fade after the baby’s birth.
In adults, “abnormal” murmurs – those that point to a greater problem — can be triggered by:
The actual murmur sound is caused when a heart valve can’t open completely (leaving a smaller than normal opening) or the valve can’t close completely (causing blood to leak backward).
Although it takes a physician’s stethoscope to hear the murmur, a person with a murmur can have chest pain, dizziness, lower limb swelling, heart palpitations or shortness of breath.
Lifestyle changes and medication can treat the symptoms, delaying complications. A heart healthy diet, exercise and weight management are key lifestyle changes.
Medications, however, will not cure the abnormality, only treat symptoms and delay invasive or required therapy.
However, there is no “cure” for abnormal heart murmurs and surgery may eventually be required to replace or repair the faulty heart valve.
A stream of new developments benefit patients needing heart valve surgery.
ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE
Make sure that your primary care physician listens closely to your heart during your annual exam. If they detect a murmur, don’t panic. He or she can refer you to one of our board certified cardiology physicians at McLeod Cardiology for proper evaluation and treatment.
You May Also Find These Articles Helpful:
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Association of Family Physicians, University of Ottawa, National Heart Center (Singapore), National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association