Understanding The 3 Types Of Heart Murmurs

What is a Heart Murmur And What Are The Signs?

A heart murmur is an unusual sound in the heartbeat’s cycle that’s caused by blood moving improperly through the valve system of the heart. The normal “lub-dub” sound that can be heard through a stethoscope is the sound of the heart valves opening and closing as they guide the blood through the heart during normal circulation. A murmur occurs when the valves aren’t doing their jobs properly and blood is flowing backward through the heart instead of following the normal pathways.

heart murmur


A heart murmur can cause poor circulation, which may result in cold or bluish extremities, especially the fingertips, toes, and lips. A victim may also experience swelling and weight gain, heavy sweating with minimal exertion, dizziness, and fainting, chest pain, chronic cough, or shortness of breath. In young children and infants, symptoms may also include a poor appetite and a failure to grow normally. Any of these symptoms should be a sign that it’s time to talk to your doctor about the underlying causes of your symptoms.

It is important to not put off the trip to the doctor when it involves the heart. The doctor can then take into account the types of heart murmur it is before giving you the next step in the course of action. From there, you can have a better idea of what to consider about your heart’s health moving forward.

Types of Heart Murmurs

Johns Hopkins Medicine defines the three types of heart murmurs as “systolic”, “diastolic”, and “continuous.” A systolic murmur occurs during a heart muscle contraction. They are divided into ejection murmurs that are due to blood flow through a narrowed vessel or irregular valve and regurgitant murmurs that are backward blood flow into one of the chambers of the heart. A diastolic murmur happens during heart muscle relaxation between beats. They are due to the narrowing of mitral or tricuspid valves, or regurgitation of the aortic or pulmonary valves. Finally, a continuous murmur happens throughout the cardiac cycle. 

It can be difficult for a patient to figure out which type of heart murmur they are experiencing. It is important to see a medical professional who can help solve that problem for you. Depending on the type and the symptoms that come along with it, the doctor will go about different treatment methods and ways of helping you through the new journey. It can be comforting to have a defined condition once the worry can relieve itself.


Most heart murmurs are not a serious problem. They may be discovered during a routine examination. Your doctor may recommend monitoring, but no further action is necessary unless the murmur is causing other symptoms. That is why it is important to pay attention to changes in order to be able to seek help if that becomes necessary.  If you suspect you or your child has a heart murmur, talk to your doctor about your concerns and a plan for living your healthiest life.


Learning about heart murmurs can help you in the long run. When you begin to notice the symptoms of a heart murmur, take that as a sign to talk to your doctor about it. While there are many possible types, they will be able to distinguish which one you are experiencing. Are you worried about heart murmurs and seeking more information? The Minimally Invasive and Bloodless Heart Surgery Program can help you find the answers and receive any necessary treatment you may require. Check out our website or give us a call at (712) 294-7055 for more information. 

A picture of Giovanni B. Ciuffo, MD wearing his Mercy One doctor attire.

About the Author

Giovanni B. Ciuffo, MD Director is an expert in Minimally Invasive Heart Surgery and Bloodless Heart Surgery is the outcome of his commitment to the development and improvement of both of these techniques. He runs a Cardiothoracic Surgery practice and manages Minimally Invasive and Bloodless Heart Surgery Program where he cares for patients from all over the country and locally. Click here to learn more about Dr. Ciuffo.

Board Certified:
American Board of Surgery
American Board of Thoracic Surgery