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Heart Murmur: Causes and Treatment

A heart murmur sounds alarming, but it’s not necessarily a cause for concern. However, your doctor should immediately assess any heart activity or function change. At CardioVascular Health Clinic, we provide complete heart care, helping patients maintain and improve their heart health. 

What Is a Heart Murmur?

With each heartbeat, your heart valves open and close. This function enables blood flow throughout your body. As the heart valves open and close normally, they make two distinct sounds: Sound One (S1) and Sound Two (S2), commonly known as "lub-dub." However, a sloshing or whooshing sound means blood is flowing across the valves, indicating a heart murmur. 

Most people experience a heart murmur at some point in their lives -- typically childhood, but it can also happen during adulthood. It’s important to note that a heart murmur alone is not an indication of heart disease or another heart problem; blood flow through the heart can sometimes be turbulent with no underlying medical cause. Innocent heart murmurs can subside and recur; they often become louder with a faster heartbeat. While some resolve on their own, others might never disappear entirely. Innocent heart murmurs can occur in the following circumstances:

  • Infancy
  • Puberty
  • Post-pregnancy
  • During exercise

Types of Heart Murmurs

Heart murmurs are grouped according to when they occur during a heartbeat:

  • Continuous: A continuous heart murmur occurs during the heart muscle's contraction and relaxation phases.
  • Diastolic: This kind of heart murmur happens when your heart relaxes.
  • Systolic: This murmur is triggered by your heart contracting or tightening.

Diastolic and continuous murmurs are more commonly linked to heart disease-related abnormalities. Nevertheless, your doctor should evaluate any heart murmur regardless of type.

Heart Murmur Volume 

A heart murmur isn't audible to the naked ear; to detect a heart murmur, a physician must use a stethoscope to amplify the sound significantly. 

Heart murmurs are classified by their volume. Heart murmurs are graded on a numeric scale between one and six. Grade 1 is a murmur that is barely detectable even with a stethoscope. Grade 6 is an audible murmur even when the stethoscope isn't pressed against the skin.  

What Causes a Heart Murmur?

Heart murmurs can be caused by several medical conditions, which might include the following:

  • Anemia: Low red blood cell count can trigger a heart murmur due to higher-than-normal blood viscosity.
  • Carcinoid heart disease: An accumulation of plaques within the heart valves caused by advanced carcinoid tumors.
  • Congenital heart defect: A structural abnormality that occurs before birth.
  • Heart infection: A heart infection, or endocarditis, involves pathogens attacking the heart valves.
  • Heart valve disease: A condition causing the heart valves to function improperly, either due to inflammation or stiffening.
  • Hyperthyroidism: An overproduction of the thyroid hormone.

What are the Symptoms of a Heart Murmur?

A heart murmur can only be diagnosed during a medical exam; many people don't experience heart murmur symptoms. Innocent heart murmurs can appear sporadically and resolve on their own. However, if an underlying medical condition triggers a heart murmur, that condition might cause symptoms that your doctor should assess.

Symptoms of related medical conditions include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Blue-tinged skin

How is a Heart Murmur Treated?

Treatment for a heart murmur can vary depending on the cause. Your physician will conduct tests to determine the underlying cause if a potentially serious medical condition is suspected. 

Treatment protocols might involve medications that address hormonal imbalances (hyperthyroidism) or iron deficiency (anemia). However, surgical intervention might be necessary if a structural abnormality is identified.

If you experience certain symptoms – blue skin, loss of consciousness, or chest pain – you should have an immediate medical evaluation. If you have concerns about your heart health or are experiencing symptoms of a potential medical problem, please don’t hesitate to contact our helpful representatives to schedule a thorough evaluation. 

Patient Resources

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Testimonials

Professional staff working in a beautiful facility with great doctors who sincerely care about their patients. Without Dr. Schmidt's skill, I would have needed heart bypass surgery instead of a stent. Follow-up has been thorough. I can't recommend them highly enough.
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LeAnn Harner

Dr. Jim Melton and all the staff are fantastic. He is an excellent surgeon and his team is GREAT!!!! I just had surgery at the surgery center, I have only great things to say about my experience. Without him I really don't think I would be here to write this. If you’re looking for a good cardiovascular team, they are a 5 star for sure.

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Susie Brooks Harrison

Dr. Parsons and staff are amazing. He truly listened to me from the consult. Staff showed genuine care for my progress post procedure. I had my follow up appointment today so satisfied with results. Blake made me comfortable from the start. He is an activist for uterine fibroids treatment beyond the standard.

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Tamara Means

Professional and caring staff. Dr. Smith is very knowledgeable and shows genuine concern for your personal health. I enjoyed the background music in the procedure room, it really adds to the relaxing atmosphere.

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David Lambert

Dr. John Schrader is the most personable doctor we know. He stays on top of my dads health care and is genuinely concerned about his health. We never leave his office with questions. He answers them all. Even questions we don’t think of. Always professional but never cold or bad bedside manner. In our opinion he is THE BEST around.
Thank you Dr Schrader.

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Kathy J

I came to Dr. Warren by a self referral for mals when it took me 8yrs 50+ doctors and thousands of dollars spent on no answers. My first visit I was scared I was just going to be gaslighted just like the past however I was pleasantly shocked when Dr. Warren immediately believed me. She took the time to review many disk I had brought from past tests. She never once dismissed me and listened to ever word I had to say. She scheduled one last test to confirm the diagnosis then I was scheduled for surgery right away. Surgery was a success and I can’t thank her and her staff enough. Dr. Warren truly saved my life.

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Angie W

Dr. Garner literally saved my life 18 months ago and I've followed him to his new practice with Cardiovascular Health. He explains things so clearly, listens and is just a very nice person. His staff is great, too! I highly recommend!

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D Watts

Some of the nicest staff that I have ever dealt with!! They have been so incredibly awesome to my mom!! Would definitely recommend them to anyone!! Thank you so much for being so great with her!!

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Christy Garvie

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