A heart murmur is an abnormal blowing, whooshing or rasping sound in the heartbeat. It is the result of vibrations caused by abnormal (turbulent) blood flow patterns. Normal heart sounds are often described as a constant “lub-dub, lub-dub.” The first “lub-dub” is the sound of the mitral and tricuspid valves closing. The second “lub-dub” is the sound of the aortic and pulmonary valves closing soon after. If there is a problem, a murmur (blowing, whooshing or rasping) may be added to this normal “lub-dub.”
A murmur may be caused by temporary increase in blood flow that results from a fever or stress. Heart murmurs can sometimes, though, be a sign of a more serious heart problem such as disease or damage to one or more heart valves, a hole in one of the heart walls or a narrowing in one of the heart’s vessels. However, a murmur does not necessarily indicate a disease or disorder and all heart disorders do not cause heart murmurs.
Most often, people with a heart murmur do not experience symptoms. The murmur is often found during a routine physical examination or physical examination for specific symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue or the presence of blue coloring of the skin or fingertips.
In most cases, murmurs do not affect your overall health. In fact, harmless murmurs, called “innocent heart murmurs,” do not require treatment or lifestyle changes. Innocent heart murmurs are common in children and often disappear when children reach adulthood.
Most heart murmurs require no specific treatment other than leading a healthy lifestyle in general (reducing stress, eating healthy, exercising regularly and not smoking). If the murmur is caused by a severe valvular defect, surgery may be recommended to replace the damaged valve.
Even though the majority of heart murmurs are due to minor irregularities, you should see your doctor regularly to monitor your condition. Your doctor will know best what, if any, lifestyle changes need to be enforced and tests or medicines need to be given.