is a heart murmur?
Blood normally flows smoothly into and out of the
heart. However sometimes there may be a structural abnormality in the heart,
such as a "hole in the heart", which can lead to the blood flow being turbulent.
This turbulent blood flow creates an abnormal sound that can be heard with a
stethoscope (an instrument used to listen to sounds within the body).
A heart murmur is also known as a systolic murmur.
causes the murmur?
A heart murmur can be caused by a number of things.
- A heart valve abnormality: A heart has four
valves which help control the flow of blood. Sometimes a valve develops an
abnormality, such as stenosis (the valve narrows, interfering with the outflow
of blood). Many heart valve abnormalities are caused by rheumatic fever, an
illness that can develop from an untreated strep throat infection.
- Endocarditis: This is an inflammation and infection
of the heart valves and endocardium (the inner lining of the heart chambers).
- Congenital Heart Problems: A congenital condition
is one which is present from birth. For example, a 'hole in the heart' (septal
defect). A 'hole in the heart' is an abnormal opening in the septum (the wall
which divides the left-hand-side of the heart from the right).
a murmur always indicate that something is wrong with the heart?
No. Some people have 'innocent' murmurs. These
can be produced by a normal heart. Therefore a murmur does not always mean that
there is something wrong with the structure of the heart. For example, you may
have a murmur if your blood moves quickly.
are the symptoms of a heart murmur?
An "innocent" murmur will usually present no heart-related
symptoms. With other murmurs, symptoms can depend on the underlying cause.
If a murmur is interfering with the heart's ability
to pump blood, a person may experience a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath,
chest pain, or feelings of lightheadedness.
Many murmurs are discovered by accident during
long do heart murmurs last?
Innocent murmurs can lessen over time and in some
cases disappear altogether.
If the murmur is related to a heart problem, its
duration can depend on the underlying cause. For example, if a person has a
congenital heart defect (a condition present since birth), the murmur may be
present for the person's whole life. In some cases, the murmur may worsen over
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