heart murmur

overview

A heart murmur is an extra or unusual noise that your doctor hears when listening to your heart with a stethoscope. Instead of the usual “lub-DUB” sound of a heartbeat, your heart produces an extra whooshing, swishing or clicking noise because there is a turbulent or abnormal blood flow through it.

Doctors classify heart murmurs as either “innocent” or “abnormal.” Innocent heart murmurs aren’t dangerous and they generally don’t cause symptoms. Anemia, fever, hyperthyroidism and pregnancy can trigger them. They often disappear over time.

Abnormal heart murmurs are usually caused by congenital heart defects (present at birth) or acquired heart valve disease, which happens when another heart condition makes your heart valve tighten or leak. (Doctors call this valve stenosis.) Learn more about congenital heart disease symptoms.

symptoms

Symptoms of abnormal heart murmurs include:

  • Bluish skin color, especially on your fingers or lips
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Excessive sweating unrelated to temperature or exercise
  • Poor eating and abnormal growth, especially in infants with congenital valve disease
  • Shortness of breath when you exert yourself physically
  • Swelling in your feet, legs or abdomen
  • Weight gain

diagnosis

In most cases, heart murmurs don’t cause serious problems, but if you or your child has any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk with your doctor. 

To diagnose a heart murmur, your doctor will perform a physical exam and listen to your heart with a stethoscope. If he or she detects a heart murmur, you will be referred to a cardiologist for more tests. These may include: 

treatment options

If you or your child is diagnosed with an abnormal heart murmur, your doctor will work with you on a treatment plan tailored to your needs. It might include medication, catheterization or surgery, if acquired heart valve disease is involved. Your doctor can also recommend lifestyle changes that can help keep you heart healthy.

why Aurora?

You're at the Heart of our Care 

Aurora Health Care offers coordinated care for preventing, diagnosing and treating heart and vascular disease. World-renowned heart and vascular specialists diagnose and treat all types of cardiovascular conditions and disorders, using the most advanced state-of-the-art tools and technologies available today. 

We have 15 hospitals and 155 clinics throughout eastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois so you can find a location that's closest to you. 

What’s all this mean to you? Convenient, coordinated and expert care. 

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