Heart murmurs represent abnormal sounds heard during the heartbeat. In general, most of these sounds are completely harmless, so they are also called normal, benign, physiologic, flow, Still’s or innocent heart murmurs. However, sometimes, these sounds may also indicate certain heart problems and doctors are trained to determine the abnormality by listening to heart murmurs.
Children may have heart murmurs since the day they were born but adults may acquire them due to some medical problem or disease. The sounds could vary from very faint to extremely loud or cause the swishing noise and if associated with some other symptoms or signs, doctors may look for heart problems that have caused it.
About Heart Murmurs
As mentioned earlier, heart murmurs can be harmless (innocent) or abnormal. Children with innocent murmurs are healthy and they have no heart problems. On the other hand, abnormal murmurs are usually accompanied by some other signs and symptoms indicating certain heart problems such as congenital heart disease (if the murmur is present since birth), but also some other diseases, infection or in elderly just by the aging process.
These extra or unusual sounds may be heard like whooshing or swishing noise in some of the patients. Doctors use stethoscope to listen to the heart and determine the nature of these heart murmurs. The things doctors pay attention to when listening to these sounds are location, loudness of the murmur and also their timing. After this, they are able to say which type of murmurs the patient is suffering from. If there are some other symptoms of the heart disease and the murmurs are diagnosed as abnormal, patients might be experiencing some heart problem. Abnormal heart murmurs are commonly caused by some heart defects present at birth (known as congenital defects of the heart). In the adult patients, abnormal heart murmurs may be provoked by infection, aging or some other medical condition happening in the body.
How to Treat Heart Murmurs?
Innocent heart murmurs in healthy children do not require any therapy. The heart of these kids is completely healthy and does not have to be treated but just regularly checked. Pregnant women may also have some innocent heart murmurs because of the increased volume of the blood during this period of their life. However, this problem also does not need to be treated in any way.
Some patients can have heart murmurs due to other medical conditions such as anemia, fever or hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland). Once the primary condition is properly managed, heart murmurs usually resolve too.
Abnormal heart murmurs are treated according to the cause of the problem. Drugs and surgery are options for congenital heart defects or some other heart problems.