Do You Have a Heart Murmur and Not Know It? Check Your Symptoms

You might be surprised to learn that heart murmurs are quite common. Many people are born with a heart murmur or develop one during childhood, and then outgrow it in adulthood. Others live with a heart murmur all their lives and never even realize it. 

These “innocent” heart murmurs, as they’re appropriately called, are harmless and don’t require any kind of treatment. Other types of heart murmurs need follow-up tests to rule out serious underlying causes. Could you have a heart murmur and not know it? 

Here at Harlem Cardiology in East Harlem, New York, Dr. Saint-Jaques and his expert cardiology team specialize in identifying the underlying causes of abnormal heart murmurs and recommending treatment to keep you and your heart healthy. Take a minute to learn about the symptoms of a heart murmur that could be evidence of an underlying heart problem. 

Potential causes of innocent and abnormal heart murmurs

A normal heartbeat makes two sounds as your heart valves close after the blood flows in and out. The sound, “lub-DUB,” is one we all recognize as a normal heartbeat. When you have a heart murmur, innocent or abnormal, your heart makes swishing or whooshing sounds when the valves close or flutter. 

Innocent heart murmurs

Innocent heart murmurs occur when your blood flows rapidly through your heart valves, such as after physical activity or during an adolescent growth spurt. Innocent heart murmurs often disappear over time, but they can also last your entire life without need for treatment or causing health problems. 

Abnormal heart murmurs

A common cause of an abnormal heartbeat is something congenital, meaning you’re born with structural irregularities that create a murmur. A hole in the heart or a heart valve abnormality can be present at birth. You may not know there’s a valve problem until later in life. 

It’s also possible to develop a heart murmur as an adult. Usually, heart valve issues are the result of infections or health conditions, such as valve calcification or endocarditis, that damage the valves and lead to a murmur. 

Check your symptoms

If you have a family history of heart defects, or you have serious health issues such as high blood pressure, it’s a good idea to understand the signs and symptoms of a heart murmur that require medical evaluation, including:

You won’t be able to hear your heart murmur, but Dr. Saint-Jacques can detect irregular heartbeat sounds through a stethoscope. If you have sudden chest pain or shortness of breath, seek immediate medical attention.

Treatment for abnormal heart murmurs

If you do have a heart murmur that requires medical treatment, Dr. Saint-Jacques recommends treatment based on the underlying cause of your murmur. If your heart murmur is the result of a leaky valve, medications may relieve your symptoms. In some cases, surgery to replace the diseased or malfunctioning valve with an artificial one can resolve the problem. 

Mitral valve prolapse, a condition in which the heart’s valves don’t close properly, often responds well to medications. In rare cases, surgery can repair or replace the heart’s abnormal mitral valve. Sometimes congenital heart problems may need to be corrected surgically.

Your heart health is not something you want to ignore or leave to chance. If you have any of the symptoms listed above, schedule an appointment so our expert cardiology team can evaluate your heart and vascular system. 

Give us a call at our East Harlem office at 646-381-2181 or request the next available appointment online.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Is Stress Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

If you find yourself stressed out on a regular basis, it likely doesn’t do your mood any good. But do you know what it’s doing to your health? Find out the physical consequences of heavy stress, and more importantly, what you can do about it.

How Women Experience Heart Attacks Differently

Symptoms of a heart attack are different in women than men, so women might not realize they’re experiencing a heart attack. Read on to learn how women experience heart attacks differently from men, so you can get the help you need in an emergency.

Varicose Veins Aren’t Just a Cosmetic Issue

When people think about varicose veins, most imagine an unsightly cosmetic issue. Many people don’t realize varicose veins can actually be a serious health concern. Read on to learn more about varicose veins and the problems they can cause.

8 Lifestyle Tips for Lowering Your Cholesterol

If you have high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, you’re at a higher risk for heart attack, stroke, and other life-threatening conditions. Thankfully, you can lower your cholesterol by changing your habits.

Who Should Have a Stress Test and How Often?

Do you wonder about having a stress test? If you struggle with heart problems, or have had heart issues in the past, stress tests with a cardiologist can diagnose problems that can’t be seen when your heart is at rest.