A normal heart has a distinctive, steady rhythm that you can hear with a stethoscope or by simply putting your ear next to someone’s chest. But sometimes, the heart can make strange sounds called heart murmurs that may sound worrying, especially if physical symptoms accompany them. So, how do you know when to worry about a heart murmur?
In this article, we’ll break down what a heart murmur is. Next, we’ll discuss the differences between abnormal and normal heart murmurs. Finally, we’ll let you know what you can do if you have a heart murmur.
What Is A Heart Murmur?
A normal, healthy heart produces a distinct “lub-dub, lub-dub” sound as it beats. This is the sound of the heart valves closing in harmony: the “lub” sound is the first part of the contraction, when the upper chambers pump blood into the lower chambers, while the “dub” sound is the second part, where the blood leaves the heart to be pumped around the body.
In some people, though, there may be extra sounds as blood rushes through the heart. These sounds are heart murmurs, and they’re classified based on their volume, intensity, and pitch. Some murmurs might have a swishing or whooshing quality, and others might have clicking or gurgling sounds.
When To Worry About A Heart Murmur
The most common type of heart murmur is an innocent heart murmur, also known as a functional murmur. It’s just the sound of blood moving through the heart in a healthy, normal way that does not suggest the need for an investigation. Innocent murmurs can come and go, but they’re benign and do not require any special treatment.
However, some murmurs can suggest a problem with the heart, such as a congenital heart defect or age-related issue. The heart is a complex organ that can develop a variety of problems. A septal defect, also known as a “hole” in the heart, can mean that the heart’s chambers are not separated properly. The heart may not be getting enough blood to function properly (stenosis), or it might be regurgitating blood into one of the chambers (suggesting a valve defect.) Cardiomyopathy may lead to the heart walls thickening to the point that it cannot pump blood properly.
You should worry about a heart murmur if you’re experiencing physical symptoms such as:
- Palpitations, fluttering, or pounding in the chest
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
- Shortness of breath, particularly when lying down to sleep
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Inability to exert yourself or perform physical exercise
Conclusion: See A Cardiologist If You’re Concerned
It’s a great idea to see a cardiovascular specialist if your heart murmurs are worrying you. They’ll be able to assess your symptoms and perform diagnostic tests to determine whether there is any cause for concern.
At the Northwest Cardiovascular Clinic in Houston, TX, we listen to all of our patients and keep you confident and comfortable through our high-quality care practices. We’re equipped to perform a comprehensive suite of tests to diagnose any potential heart problems. These include electrocardiography, heart rhythm monitoring, and blood tests. If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach us at (281) 807-5253.