When I was told that I had a heart murmur 30 years ago I had no idea what that was, and thank God I didn't. I would have never run all the run all the 3 mi. and 6 mi. races I have completed already.
What is a heart murmur? The definition of this is an extra or unusual sound heard when the heart beats. Basically, it sounds like the heart is humming with every beat. Most are considered harmless but some can be very dangerous.
The two types of these are called innocent and abnormal. An innocent one is the harmless type and is considered normal. Children born with this type of murmur usually grow out of it in time.
The heart has four chambers that are separated by valves. Each chamber fills with blood at different intervals during the heart beat and the valves, if they are healthy, keep the blood from flowing backwards. If the valves are damaged in some way the blood will make a whooshing sound as it gets pumped through the heart that can be heard using a stethoscope.
What is this caused by? Adults who have these can get them by exercising excessively, getting sick and having a high fever, being anemic, having an underactive thyroid and even being pregnant. All of these usually resolve without treatment.
An abnormal type of this is caused by certain medical conditions like a septal defect or a heart valve defect. Symptoms of an abnormal ones include but are not limited to shortness of breath on exertion, chest pain, diaphoresis or sweating, a blue tinge to the skin, and overwhelming fatigue.
An abnormal one makes the heart work harder and even though the heart is working harder it is working less efficiently and can lead to an enlarged heart. This is when the heart muscle is irreparably damaged and treatment consists of treating the symptoms with medication or if the condition is serious enough, with surgery to repair the damaged valve.
Innocent ones usually require no treatment but sometimes if they are due to anemia, an underactive thyroid, or high fever then they are treated with medications to control these problems. Symptoms are limited only to the sound of the murmur detected by your doctor when listening to the heart during an examination.
To figure this out your doctor should refer you to a cardiologist if he or she hears one during your yearly physical examination. If the cardiologist is quite skilled then he can hear it and usually classify what type it is at that time. If there is a need for further testing then the cardiologist can order some tests to determine if your murmur is to be typed innocent or abnormal. One test your doctor will order is an echocardiogram, or ECG. This will show when the heart murmur is happening and the extent of the heart murmur itself.
"This article is not to be considered medical advice of any kind and is only for informational and entertainment purposes only. As always you, the reader, should consult with your personal physician or another Licensed Health Professional."