According to the Mayo Clinic, “Heart murmurs are sounds during your heartbeat cycle made by turbulent blood in or near your heart.”
While using a stethoscope to listen to your heart, your doctor may hear a ‘swishing’ or ‘whooshing’ sound instead of the ‘lub-dub’ sound that a normal heart makes. This slight change in the sound of your heart may mean you have a heart murmur.
Often times, murmurs can be identified at the time of birth or they may develop later in life. Although they are harmless and do not need treatment, they may be an indication of an underlying issue with the heart such as endocarditis (an infection of the inner lining of the heart) or valve calcification (a hardening or thickening of the valves in the heart).
If you have what is referred to as a “harmless” heart murmur, you won’t experience any symptoms at all. If it is an abnormal heart murmur caused an underlying medical condition, the symptoms are:
- Skin that appears blue, especially on your fingertips and lips
- Swelling or sudden weight gain
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic cough
- Enlarged liver
- Enlarged neck veins
- Poor appetite and failure to grow normally (in infants)
- Heavy sweating with minimal or no exertion
- Chest pain
Heart murmurs can be genetic. Having blood relatives with a heart defect, puts you at greater risk of a murmur. Additionally, medical conditions such as hypertension, hyperthyroidism, and pulmonary hypertension can increase your risk of a heart murmur.
In adults, a heart murmur may improve once the underlying medical condition is addressed. In children, murmurs may go away on their own as the child matures.
If you have or are at risk of getting a heart murmur and would like to speak with a cardiologist at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, call 718-206-6742 to schedule an appointment.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.