Your heart is one of the most important organs in your body because it does a very important job: pump blood through your body. As blood pumps in and out of the heart, a sound can be detected made up of two beats. Sometimes, another sound can interrupt the normal beating of the heart. This is called a heart murmur. A heart murmur is a different than a heart beat, typically sounding similar to a “whooshing” noise. A doctor can detect a heart murmur through a stethoscope. Although it may sound dangerous, heart murmurs can be completely harmless sometimes. It is normal for children to be born with heart murmurs or for them to develop overtime and in both cases, heart murmurs can either be harmless or abnormal.
When is a heart murmur harmless?
Having a heart murmur doesn’t necessarily mean you have a serious health condition. It can be harmless and require no treatment at all if this is the case. An innocent heart murmur can happen when the blood flows faster in the heart than it normally does. There are a number of safe situations where this can happen. For example, while exercising, it is normal for heart murmurs to happen because of the increased blood flow. If you are sick with a fever, you may also experience heart murmurs as your heart beats rapidly. Pregnant women may experience heart murmurs that are harmless. Patients with thyroid or anemia can also experience heart murmurs due to hormonal or blood abnormalities.
However, a heart murmur can be a sign of an underlying condition. Therefore, if a heart murmur is detected, a doctor should look into it through follow-up tests to ensure there is no underlying heart condition causing the heart murmur.
When can a heart murmur be abnormal?
An abnormal heart murmur may be an indication of a heart valve defect that is preventing the heart from pumping blood in a normal way. It is important to look out for other symptoms accompanying the heart murmur to determine if it’s actually harmless or not. A harmless heart murmur will not have any partnering symptoms or signs. The only way you will even know you have a heart murmur is if a doctor detects it. However, if you have any other symptoms related to breathing or your chest like the ones below, in addition to a heart murmur, there may be an underlying heart condition causing the symptoms.
Blueish body parts
If you experience blue areas on your body, this may indicate that blood is not circulating properly to all parts of the body. This is most common in fingertips, nails, and lips.
Weight gain or swelling of the body
A rapid and sudden weight gain or swelling of the body may indicate a heart condition. It is common for extremities such as arms and legs to swell instead of the whole body.
If you experience shortness of breath after little or no physical activity or have trouble breathing while resting, it may be possible that a heart related issue is causing it.
Heavy sweating after little or no physical activity is also a sign that the heart is working too hard and cannot endure normal physical activity.
Chest pains indicate something may be wrong with the heart because it is working too hard to pump the blood.
Dizziness or fainting
Dizziness or fainting may be a sign of a heart condition because the blood may not be circulating efficiently through the body.
Typically, heart murmurs are detected when your doctor checks your heart using a stethoscope. If a doctor detects a heart murmur, make sure to do follow-up tests to rule out any serious heart conditions, plus continue monitoring with your physician if you experience any of the above symptoms to make sure they don’t develop into something more serious.
If you are looking for high quality and patient-focused medical care for you or a loved one, SC Internal Medicine Associates & Rehabilitation will love to help you. Please call 803-749-1111 to make an appointment today.