How Much Do You Know about Heart Murmurs?
A heart murmur is characterized by an abnormal sound made by turbulent blood flow within the heart. While many individuals have heart murmurs that are relatively harmless, some murmurs may be the sign of an underlying heart condition.
Causes and Risk Factors
A heart murmur may be caused by a number of factors, including:
- Highly dynamic, normal circulatory function
- Valvular abnormalities, such as a congenital condition or mitral valve prolapse
- Structural abnormalities of the heart valve that are present at birth or acquired due to conditions such as arteriosclerosis or rheumatic fever
- Structural abnormalities of the heart muscle due to congenital defects, myocardial infarction, high blood pressure, or congestive heart failure
- Abnormal holes in the structure of the heart
- Endocarditis, which is an infection of the inner lining of the heart valves and chambers
- Pericarditis, an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart, which is often the result of a heart attack, autoimmune disease, or severe kidney disease
Signs and Symptoms
Benign heart murmurs typically do not present any symptoms. However, the symptoms of an abnormal heart murmur may include:
- Chest pain
- Palpitations, or feelings of rapid/irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Inability to tolerate exercise
Benign heart murmurs may be diagnosed during a routine physical examination through the use of a stethoscope. Abnormal heart murmurs may also be discovered this way, while others can be identified by a number of diagnostic tests. Some common diagnostic tools used to identify a heart murmur include:
- Chest x-rays
- Electrocardiogram, or a test that records the heart’s electrical activity using electrodes
- Echocardiogram, or ultrasound of the heart
- Cardiac catheterization
- Blood tests to identify diseases that may affect the heart
At MountainView Hospital of Las Vegas, our Cardiac Program and Cardiac Surgery Team is dedicated to meeting the individual needs of our heart patients. Our facility is not only accredited through the Society of Chest Pain Centers but is also the only hospital in the area to offer onsite cardiac rehabilitation services. Contact us at (702) 255-5000 to learn more.