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Heart Murmur Specialist

Harlem Cardiology on Madison Avenue

Cardiologists located in East Harlem, New York, NY

No one likes the idea of their heart making a strange noise, but luckily most heart murmurs aren’t a cause for concern. Henock Saint-Jacques, MD, FACC, is a leading heart specialist at Harlem Cardiology on Madison Avenue in New York City who has extensive experience diagnosing the causes of heart murmurs and treating those that pose a health risk. Call the East Harlem office or book an appointment online today to learn more about heart murmurs.

Heart Murmur Q & A

What is a heart murmur?

Normally your heart makes a “lub-DUP” sound as the valves close, but if you have a heart murmur it makes a whooshing or swishing noise as it beats instead.

In many cases, heart murmurs are nothing to worry about, and oftentimes people are born with or develop a heart murmur that never causes any problems. However there is a chance that a heart murmur may be an indication of a more serious condition, so it’s worth having Dr. Saint-Jacques assess it.

What are the symptoms of a heart murmur?

If you have an innocent heart murmur, which is one that isn’t caused by an underlying health problem, you won’t have any symptoms other than the murmur itself. Abnormal heart murmurs may not cause symptoms either, so being symptom-free is no guarantee that your heart murmur is innocent.

If you have any of the following symptoms, it could be evidence of a heart problem:

  • Bluish lips and fingertips
  • Sudden weight gain or swelling
  • Being short of breath
  • Chronic cough
  • Enlarged neck veins
  • Sweating heavily without exercising
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or fainting

Abnormal heart murmurs are often congenital, meaning you’re born with them. Infections and diseases that damage the structure of your heart can also cause abnormal heart murmurs, such as valve calcification, endocarditis, and rheumatic fever.

How are heart murmurs treated?

Innocent heart murmurs don’t need treatment, while abnormal heart murmurs may need treatment depending on their cause. Dr. Saint-Jacques may prescribe medication, such as:

  • Anticoagulants
  • Diuretics
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Statins
  • Beta-blockers

If medication isn’t sufficient on its own, you may need surgery. Options for treating a damaged or leaky valve include:

  • Balloon valvuloplasty
  • Annuloplasty
  • Repair of structural support
  • Valve leaflet repair

If the valve needs replacing, it can be done with open heart surgery. Mechanical valves made from metal are the most robust, but require you to take anticoagulant medication to avoid blood clot formation.

Tissue valves from a pig, cow, or human donor, or an autograft that uses your own pulmonary valve can work well but aren’t as long-lasting as mechanical valves. A less invasive technique is transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) that delivers a prosthetic valve through a leg artery or small chest incision.

If you’re concerned about your heart function and want to find out if you have a murmur, call Harlem Cardiology on Madison Avenue or book an appointment online today.