Normally, your heartbeat makes a two-beat sound similar to “lub-DUP.” According to Mayo Clinic, the “lub-DUP” noise is the sound of your valves opening and closing. However, sometimes turbulent blood flow can cause a whooshing noise too. If whooshing or swishing (i.e., the sound of your blood flowing) is heard through a stethoscope, you may have a heart murmur.
Sometimes heart murmurs are harmless, but other times they can be a sign of an underlying heart condition. Dr. Henock Saint-Jaques of Harlem Cardiology diagnosis heart murmurs, and if necessary, suggest the appropriate treatment.
Not all heart murmurs have symptoms, but in this article, we’ll cover eight of the most common symptoms.
Heart murmurs: causes and symptoms
Some heart murmurs are congenital, which means that a baby is born already with a heart murmur. In other cases, it’s possible to develop a murmur later in life. Heart murmurs can be caused by pregnancy (when increased blood flows through the heart), hyperthyroidism, rheumatic fever, or even rapid growth spurts.
Heart murmurs can also be caused by issues with the heart, including endocarditis, valve calcification, or other heart valve abnormalities.
Depending on the severity of the murmur, the cause of the murmur, and other underlying heart conditions, the symptoms you notice may vary. However, these are the most common symptoms of a heart murmur:
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or syncope
- Bluish lips and fingertips (from not enough oxygen)
- Enlarged neck veins
- Sudden weight gain or swelling
- Chronic cough
- Excess sweating even without exercising
- Chest pain
According to Mayo Clinic, poor appetite and slow growth can be a sign of a heart murmur in an infant.
If you or your child has been diagnosed with a heart murmur, your next question might pertain to treatment. Heart murmur treatment depends on the underlying cause of your murmur. Sometimes an innocent murmur requires no treatment. However, murmurs that appear in adulthood are often related to valve issues, according to the American Heart Association.
For instance, if your murmur requires treatment, Dr. Saint-Jacques may suggest medication. In the case of leaky valves, valves can be replaced during surgery.
Once the underlying condition is treated, the heart murmur should improve.
What to do if you think you have a heart murmur
It’s important to remember that you might not notice the signs of a heart murmur — not everyone has symptoms. However, even if you don’t have any of the eight symptoms listed above, a murmur can still be detected via a stethoscope during your normal exam. An EKG can detect heart abnormalities and other conditions that may contribute to your symptoms.
Anytime you experience any concerning cardiac symptoms, it’s important to seek medical care so you can address any underlying issues as soon as possible. At Harlem Cardiology, it’s our goal to help your heart stay healthy, whether you need monitoring, testing like EKGs, medication, or surgery. If you have questions about heart murmurs, call our East Harlem, New York, clinic at 646-381-2181.
You may also request an appointment online with our easy-to-use portal.