Heart murmurs: symptoms, consequences, what is a cardiac murmur?
What Are Heart Murmurs? Definition, Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

What Are Heart Murmurs? Definition, Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

By Stacey Williams
Last edited

A heart or cardiac murmur is an abnormal murmur seen during the auscultation of the heartbeat. There are two forms: the systolic mummer and the diastolic murmur.

Definition of a heart murmur

A heart or cardiac murmur corresponds to an unfamiliar noise during an auscultation of the heartbeat, heard with a stethoscope. It is caused by turbulence during the blood circulation towards the heart, and the duration and placement can change.

There are two forms of heart murmurs. The systolic murmur appears during the contraction of the heart (systole), whilst the blood flows towards the organs. On the other hand, the diastolic murmur occurs whilst the heart is refilling with blood (diastole).

The majority of people who suffer from a heart murmur don’t realise it. It is discovered most often during a routine medical check-up at the doctors.

Causes of a heart murmur

A heart murmur can affect people of all ages. With children, it’s common and happens most commonly due to a congenital cardiac malformation and it generally disappears as the child gets older. With adults, it’s often due to an abnormality in the cardiac valves.

A faster circulation than normal can be the origin of a heart murmur. It can be caused by a hyperthyroidism, pregnancy, a red blood cell deficit or fast growth during adolescence.

Consequences of a heart murmur

A heart murmur doesn’t often have any impact on your health. However, it can be a sign of an important cardiac disease. It is for this reason that doctors carry out more additional tests during the diagnosis like an echocardiograph, an electrocardiogram or a chest x-ray.

Treatment of a heart murmur

Heart murmurs don’t need any treatment per se. However, it is important to treat the problem at the source (anaemia, heart failure…) Therefore, taking medication is often enough. These can include diuretics, anticoagulants or beta blockers and a surgical operation can be necessary nevertheless, to replace a defective cardiac valve.

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