HEART MURMURSHeart murmurs are heart sounds produced when blood flows across one of the heart valves that are loud enough to be heard with a stethoscope.

There are two types of murmurs. A functional murmur or "physiologic murmur" is a heart murmur that is primarily due to physiologic conditions outside the heart and are quite common. “Innocent” heart murmurs are often heard in children and go away over time as the child grows. They are also heard in adults over the age of 50. They are found in certain situations when the blood flows harder and faster than the regular rate, such as in pregnant women and during illnesses such as a viral fever.

Other types of murmurs are due to structural defects in the heart itself. Murmurs may also be the result of various problems, such as narrowing or leaking of valves, or the presence of abnormal passages through which blood flows in or near the heart. Such murmurs, known as pathologic murmurs, should be evaluated by an expert. 

If a heart valve is damaged and has trouble closing this is called regurgitation. When the valve is unable to let enough blood through, this is called stenosis. Heart valves maybe affected by many reasons. They can be damaged by heart conditions or by infection such as rheumatic fever or endocarditis. Normal wear and tear that happens with age can also damage the heart valves.

Sometimes a heart murmur is due to a thickening of the heart muscle.  When this happens, it can get in the way of normal blood flow and can result in a heart murmur.

Most common heart murmurs are diagnosed during a regular check up by the doctor. Your provider may suggest an Echocardiogram, EKG or chest x-ray. In some cases, a Cardiac Catheterization is needed to assess any defects in the heart. Not all murmurs need treatment. Heart murmurs are often treated with medications and monitored with echocardiograms. Whereas, other cases may need to undergo a surgery for valve replacement or repair of the defect in the heart.