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What does it mean if I have a heart murmur?


A heart murmur, in a very simple sense, is a sound created in the heart, and is detected by the medical practitioner listening to the heart sounds with a stethoscope. These sounds or murmurs in the heart are usually due to turbulence of blood flow, which may be due to a host of factors. These factors include but are not limited to such problems as a hole within the heart chamber, a valve which is tightly narrowed, a valve which is leaking, or other anatomical defects. Also, a rather benign problem called mitral valve prolapse could be the source of the murmur.

It should be emphasized that many heart murmurs are truly benign and are not associated with any structural abnormality of the heart. These are usually low-grade murmurs that have characteristics which can be identified by the examining physician.

Sometimes it is necessary to do a simply, painless, non-invasive test called an echocardiogram to determine the significance of the heart murmur and its effect on the proper functioning of the heart. This test uses sound waves to study the anatomy of the heart, and generally requires a physician specially trained in the character and the nature of heart disease to interpret the results of this test.


 

 
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