Heart Murmurs

A normal heartbeat makes two sounds like "lubb-dupp,” which are the sounds of your heart valves closing. Heart murmurs are sounds during your heartbeat cycle, such as whooshing or swishing, made by turbulent blood in or near your heart. These sounds can be heard with a stethoscope.

There are two types of heart murmurs: innocent murmurs and abnormal murmurs. A person with an innocent murmur has a normal heart. This type of heart murmur is common in newborns and children. An abnormal heart murmur is more serious. In children, abnormal murmurs are usually caused by congenital heart disease. In adults, abnormal murmurs are most often due to acquired heart valve problems.

Based on the type of heart murmur, your doctor will recommend the appropriate treatment, if required.

Causes of Heart Murmurs

Although there are several causes for heart murmurs, certain traits, conditions or habits may raise your risk for the condition. These are known as risk factors and include:

Non-modifiable risk factors: These factors are irreversible and cannot be changed. The more of these risk factors you have, the greater your chance of developing heart murmurs.

  • Pregnancy
  • Family history of a heart defect

Modifiable risk factors: These factors can be modified, treated or controlled through medications or lifestyle changes.

Other conditions that may contribute to development of heart murmurs:

Symptoms of Heart Murmurs

Heart murmurs may make your heart feel a certain way. Some of the most common symptoms include the following:

  • Skin that appears blue, especially on your fingertips and lips
  • Swelling or sudden weight gain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic cough: a condition in which a cough lasts longer than 8 weeks in adults, or 4 weeks in children.
  • Enlarged neck veins
  • Heavy sweating with minimal or no exertion
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

Diagnosis of Heart Murmurs

Heart murmurs are usually detected when your doctor listens to your heart using a stethoscope during a physical exam. To check whether the murmur is innocent or abnormal, your doctor will consider: loudness, location, pitch, frequency of occurrence and length. If the doctor thinks the heart murmur is abnormal, you or your child may need additional tests, including:

Treatment of Heart Murmurs

An innocent heart murmur generally doesn't require treatment because the heart is normal. If innocent murmurs are the result of an illness, such as fever or hyperthyroidism, the murmurs will go away once that condition is treated.

If you or your child have an abnormal heart murmur, treatment may not be necessary. Your doctor may want to monitor the condition over time. If treatment is necessary, it depends on what heart problem is causing the murmur and may include medications or surgery. Some treatment options include:


  • Anticoagulants “blood-thinners” will help treat, prevent and reduce blood clots.
  • Diuretics “water pills” will help reduce the amount of fluid retention in your body.
  • ACE inhibitors will help blood vessels relax and open up, leading to a lower blood pressure.
  • Vasodilators will help the muscle in the walls of the blood vessels to relax, allowing the vessel to dilate.
  • Beta blockers will help reduce your blood pressure.

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