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Heart Murmur


What is a heart murmur?

A heart murmur is a sound heard between your heartbeats. A murmur may sound like a swish or whoosh noise. Heart murmurs may be soft or loud. Heart murmurs are common and are usually harmless.

What causes a heart murmur?

  • Problems with the structure of the heart that are present at birth
  • Heart valve disease, or valves that do not open and close properly
  • Pregnancy
  • Fever
  • Overactive thyroid gland
  • Anemia (low red blood cells)
  • Exercise

What are the signs and symptoms of a heart murmur?

You may not have any signs and symptoms other than the sound of the murmur. You may have any of the following signs or symptoms of an abnormal heart murmur:

  • Poor appetite
  • Shortness of breath with activity
  • Heavy sweating with little to no activity
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Skin that is pale or blue on the fingertips or lips
  • Cough
  • Swelling or sudden weight gain

How is a heart murmur diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will listen to your heart with a stethoscope. He will listen for how loud the murmur is, where it is located, and when it happens. Your healthcare provider will check your pulse and look for swelling. Tell him about your symptoms and medical history. You may need any of the following:

  • An EKG test records your heart rhythm and how fast your heart beats. It is used to check for the cause of your heart murmur.
  • A chest x-ray may show the cause of your symptoms, such as shortness of breath or chest pain.
  • Blood tests may show what is causing your heart murmur.
  • An echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound. Sound waves are used to show the structure and function of your heart.

How is a heart murmur treated?

You usually do not need treatment for a heart murmur. You may be able to return to normal activities. If you have an underlying heart problem, such as heart valve disease, you may need treatment. Treatment may depend on how severe your underlying condition is. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on your condition.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You have chest pain.
  • You have trouble breathing.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You feel dizzy, lightheaded, or faint.
  • Your child has chest pain with exercise.
  • Your fingertips or lips are pale or blue.
  • You have palpitations, or a fast heartbeat.
  • You have sudden swelling in your limbs or weight gain.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • Your child has a poor appetite or will not eat.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have shortness of breath with activity.
  • You sweat heavily with little or no activity.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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