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What is a Heart Murmur?

May 14, 2013

One of the most common pieces of equipment associated with doctors is the stethoscope. When someone dresses up as a doctor and needs a quick prop to demonstrate what the costume is, a stethoscope is usually used. This unique instrument is used to listen to heartbeats, but do you know what a doctor is listening for when they use a stethoscope?

Heart Murmur

A trained doctor can determine how often a person's heart beats and how someone's heart valves sound while opening and closing. When listening to some people's heartbeats, a doctor can detect a sound that is not a part of a normal heartbeat—a swish that we call a heart murmur.

According to CardioSmart. Org:

"…many people don’t even know they have a heart murmur unless their doctor tells them. However, some heart murmurs can be a sign of a heart problem, usually due to damage to the valves that help direct the flow of blood within and out of the heart. There are a number of tests to help identify the exact cause of a heart murmur."

Innocent heart murmurs, such as those that occur in "up to half of all children," pregnant women or during a temporary illness, usually do not require treatment as they do not indicate a serious problem.

Abnormal heart murmurs are sometimes treated or may just be monitored. Causes of an abnormal heart murmur include: a malfunctioning heart valve, a hole in the wall of the heart, damage from disease or infection, the effects of aging, and a heart muscle that has grown too large.

If you have been told you have a heart murmur and want to get it checked out, visit us at North Ohio Heart where, for more than three decades, we have encouraged north Ohio families to consider heart health and work to maintain healthy lifestyles.

photo credit: Alfonsina Blyde

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