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.
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 underlying causes for your symptoms.
Types of Heart Murmurs
There are two types of heart murmurs; “innocent” and “abnormal.” An innocent heart murmur is caused by blood flowing more rapidly than normal through the heart. This can be caused by physical activity, pregnancy, fever, anemia, and even rapid growth phases during development. Innocent heart murmurs may disappear over time or stay with the patient their entire lives without causing further complications. Abnormal heart murmurs may be caused by a variety of reasons, like disease, surgery, trauma, congenital heart problems, or other medical conditions, and are more likely to cause complications in the long term.
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. 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.