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Heart Murmurs

A heart murmur is an unusual sound that is heard when blood flows through the heart.

Heart Murmurs

A heart murmur is an unusual sound that is heard when blood flows through the heart. This sound can be soft or loud and occurs due to turbulence in blood flow.

There are two ways in which heart murmurs can be present: at birth (congenital) or develop later in life (acquired).

Some heart murmurs are harmless, meaning they do not indicate a heart disease and do not require treatment. On the other hand, some heart murmurs can be signs of a serious heart disease. In these cases, the Cardiologist will need to perform tests to evaluate the functioning of the heart and the heart valves.

What are the symptoms?

In many cases, heart murmurs do not cause symptoms and are found during a routine medical check-up. However, in some cases, they may be associated with symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Chest pain

  • Dizziness

  • Fainting

It is important to note that specific symptoms may vary depending on the underlying cause of the heart murmur. Among them, these are the most common:

  • Displaying bluish or grayish hues in the nails or lips

  • Experiencing discomfort or pain in the chest area

  • Having a persistent and recurrent cough

  • Feeling dizzy or vertigo

  • Presenting swelling in the liver

  • Observing an increase in the size of the neck veins

  • Experiencing fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Excessive sweating even without intense physical activity

  • In babies, showing lack of appetite and insufficient growth

  • Experiencing difficulty breathing

  • Presenting swelling or sudden weight gain

How many types of heart murmurs are there?

There are several types of heart murmurs, classified according to their origin and characteristics. Some of the most common types include:

  • Systolic Murmur

Occurs during the contraction of the heart muscle. These murmurs are divided into two categories: ejection murmurs, caused by blood flow through a narrowed or irregular artery or valve, and regurgitation murmurs, where the blood flow goes back into one of the heart's chambers.

  • Diastolic Murmur

Occurs during the relaxation of the heart muscle between beats. These murmurs can be due to a narrowing (stenosis) in the mitral or tricuspid valves, or regurgitation in the aortic or pulmonary valves.

  • Continuous Murmurs

Occurs throughout the entire cardiac cycle.

How are they diagnosed?

Diagnosis of a heart murmur is usually made using a combination of physical exams and additional tests requested by a cardiologist. During the physical examination, the doctor closely listens to the abnormal heart sounds with a stethoscope. Depending on the findings, further exams may be needed, such as:

  • Echocardiography is an ultrasound modality that uses sound waves to create images that assess heart function.

  • Electrocardiogram, also known as ECG, analyzes the electrical activity of the heart and graphically represents it as waves.

  • A chest X-ray allows the visualization of the size and shape of the heart, as well as the location and structure of the main arteries.

  • Cardiac catheterization is a procedure that can identify heart abnormalities.

All of this to evaluate the structure and functioning of the heart in detail.

What are the most common causes?

Some factors that can increase the risk include:

  • Family history

  • Congenital heart defects

  • Heart infections

  • Connective tissue diseases (such as Marfan syndrome)

  • Valvular diseases

In addition, some medical conditions may increase the risk of heart murmurs, such as:

  • Carcinoid syndrome, a rare type of cancerous tumor that releases chemicals into the bloodstream

  • Cardiomyopathy, a weakness in the heart muscle

  • Endocarditis, an infection in the lining of the heart

  • Anemia

  • Hypereosinophilic syndrome, blood disorders characterized by a high number of eosinophils, a type of white blood cells

  • Autoimmune disorders, like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis

  • Heart valve disease

  • Pulmonary hypertension, high blood pressure in the lungs

  • History of rheumatic fever

  • Hyperthyroidism, an overactive thyroid gland

Can a heart murmur be prevented?

Heart murmurs are not always preventable, as they can be associated with congenital factors or underlying medical conditions. However, maintaining good cardiovascular health can reduce the risk of developing heart problems that can cause murmurs.

Heart murmurs are a common condition that can raise concern, but it does not always indicate a serious heart problem. At BlueNetHospitals, we have a highly trained medical team specialized in Cardiology and heart care, committed to providing a comprehensive approach to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of heart murmurs. Book your appointment at the Heart Center Los Cabos.


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