Heart Murmur - Topic Overview
How is a heart murmur diagnosed?
murmurs are found during regular doctor visits. During exams, doctors listen to
each part of the heartbeat, including any extra sounds, or murmurs, that may be
If a doctor hears a murmur, he or she can often tell
whether it is innocent by how loud the noise is, what part of the heart it is
coming from, and what kind of sound it is. He or she will also look for signs
of a heart problem—for example, shortness of breath when the person is active,
lightheadedness, a fast or irregular heartbeat, or a buildup of fluid in the
legs or lungs. If your doctor thinks your murmur may be a sign of a problem,
you will have tests to check your heart. You may also be sent to a heart
specialist, called a
cardiologist, for more tests.
echocardiogram is a type of ultrasound test. It turns
sound waves into pictures that show how well your heart is working.
electrocardiogram, also called an EKG or ECG, checks
the electrical activity of your heart. It translates your heart's electrical
activity into line tracings on paper. The spikes and dips in the line tracings
are called waves.
- A chest
X-ray shows the size and shape of your heart and the
position and shape of your large arteries.
- Cardiac catheterization can check for defects in the heart. A thin tube is
inserted into an artery in your leg or arm. The tube, called a catheter, is
slowly pushed up to your heart. A small amount of dye is injected, and the
pictures show the heart chambers and valves as the dye moves through
How is it treated?
If you have an innocent murmur,
you do not need treatment, because your heart is normal.
have an abnormal murmur, treatment depends on the heart problem that is causing
the murmur and may include medicines or surgery. Not all abnormal murmurs need
to be treated. If you have an abnormal murmur and have no other symptoms, your
doctor may only monitor your condition with an echocardiogram.
you have symptoms, you may need to take medicine to lower your blood pressure
and reduce your heart's workload. You may need surgery to replace a valve or
repair a heart defect.