When To Worry About A Heart Murmur?

When to Worry about a Heart Murmur?

Heart murmurs are typically not serious. But if you think that it is unusual, you need to ask a cardiologist. Your doctor can determine when you should worry about a heart murmur. In this article, we will understand what heart murmur means, its types, causes, and symptoms.

What Is A Heart Murmur?

During your heartbeat cycle, you will hear a swishing or whooshing sound, and that is called heart murmur. This sound is due to the turbulent blood flowing within or near your heart. This can be heard using a stethoscope.

This is not a disease, but it can be a sign of an underlying heart problem. Heart murmurs may or may not be congenital. If this is due to a certain heart condition, then you need treatment depending on its cause.

Types Of A Heart Murmur

All heart murmurs depend upon the loudness, duration, and pitch. They are also analyzed according to their intensity, from a scale of one (being very faint) to the scale of six (being very loud).

Here are the types of murmurs

1. Systolic Murmur

This type of murmur happens when your heart muscle is contracting. This is further divided into ejection murmurs and regurgitant murmurs.

2. Diastolic Murmur

This type of murmur occurs between beats when your heart muscle is relaxing. A diastolic murmur is either due to a regurgitation of the pulmonary or aortic valves or stenosis of the tricuspid or mitral valve.

3. Continuous Murmur

It is considered as a continuous murmur if it is not included in either of the two. This usually occurs during the cardiac cycle.

Causes Of Heart Murmur

Heart murmurs may not be that serious, but sometimes, they are due to an underlying heart-related condition. Here are some of the causes of heart murmurs

Congenital Malformation

Heart murmurs, especially in children, are caused by heart malformations. Some of these have no symptoms and can be benign. Other congenital malformations may need you to undergo surgery or a heart transplant if these are already severe.

Heart Valve Defects

Murmurs in adults are usually due to heart valve problems. These are usually caused by an infection, for instance, infective endocarditis. However, valve problems may also be due to the normal wear and tear on your heart as a part of aging.

Causes Of Clicks

The most common cause of heart clicks is mitral valve problems. Mitral valve problems occur when either or both of your mitral valves are long enough that can cause blood regurgitation.

Causes Of Rubs

Heart rubs occur when there is a friction between the sacs around your heart. The friction is usually due to bacteria, virus, or fungus, which leads to an infection.

Causes Of Galloping Rhythms

Galloping rhythms are very rare. A third heart sound may be harmless, but it is usually an indication of a heart-related problem. A fourth heart sound, on the other hand, may indicate a very serious heart condition.

Symptoms Of Heart Murmurs

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Breathlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Bluish fingertips or skin color

When To Worry About A Heart Murmur?

As mentioned above, a heart murmur is not a disease. Instead, it is a sound heard while your heart is beating. Most of this is not serious, but it may indicate an underlying health condition. Using a stethoscope, your doctor may hear a swishing or whooshing sound.

If your heart murmur is accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, fainting, bluish skin, swelling, weight gain, chronic cough, poor appetite, heavy sweating, or enlarged neck veins or liver, you will need to seek immediate medical attention.

Sometimes, heart murmurs should not be a cause of your worry. But depending on the duration and volume of the heart murmur, your doctor will ask you to undergo various tests, such as echocardiogram or electrocardiogram.

Conclusion

A heart murmur is not usually a problem, and in fact, it is common in children, especially those who have fever or anemia. Although the valves and chambers are normal, the blood flow in or near your heart makes an audible sound. Murmurs that are hard to hear are typically not serious. But if it comes with various symptoms such as chest pain, lightheadedness, or shortness of breath, you need to see your cardiologist right away.

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Doctor, author and fitness enthusiast, Ahmed Zayed, MD, is a surgery resident with a passion for helping people live a happy healthy life. He is the author of numerous health-related books and contributor to several medicine, health and wellbeing websites.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed