Heart Murmurs – Diagnosis & Possible Treatment Options

Heart Health

A heart murmur refers to an abnormal sound made by turbulent blood flow within the heart. While many adults and children have benign heart murmurs and live perfectly normal lives, some heart murmurs can be the sign of a more serious condition.

Causes
Harmless heart murmurs may be caused by a highly dynamic but normal circulatory system or slight valvular abnormalities, such as mitral valve prolapse. Abnormal heart murmurs may be caused by:

  • Congenital, or acquired structural abnormalities of the heart valve or heart muscle
  • Abnormal holes in the structure of the heart that persist after birth
  • Endocarditis, or an infection of the lining of the heart valves and chambers
  • Pericarditis, or an infection of the membrane enclosing the heart

Signs and Symptoms
While benign heart murmurs may not present any symptoms, common symptoms of an abnormal heart murmur include:

  • Palpitations or chest pain
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Light-headedness
  • Shortness of breath

Diagnosis
Many heart murmurs can be diagnosed during a physical examination using a stethoscope, while others are found using a number of diagnostic tests. These may include:

  • Electrocardiogram to record the heart’s electrical activity
  • Chest x-ray to determine size and shape of the heart
  • Echocardiogram, also known as a cardiac ultrasound
  • Cardiac catheterization in which a tube is inserted into the heart through an artery to detect structure or functional problems

Treatment Options
Individuals suffering from an abnormal heart murmur may be treated using medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors. Heart murmurs caused by severe heart abnormalities may require surgical intervention, such as a replacement of defective heart valves, correction of heart defects, or removal of tumors.

If you believe that you are suffering from a heart murmur, then it may be time to undergo diagnostic testing. Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center has earned accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers and provides superior service for patients with heart conditions. We also provide some of the most comprehensive and advanced cardiovascular services available. Learn more about our surgical and diagnostic technology by contacting us at (702) 731-8000.

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