When we talk about heart murmurs, it refers to the extra heart sounds that are produced because of the turbulent flowing of blood through the heart valves. Heart murmurs can be normal or “innocent” because the blood is flowing through healthy heart valves. However, there are also heart murmurs that are caused by blood flowing through damaged heart valves. Heart valves are actually parts of the heart that keeps the blood moving in the heart and preventing it to leak back. Therefore, if a problem in the heart valve occurs, the heart has to work twice as hard in order to pump blood.
Generally, heart valve defects can be present at birth. However, heart valve defects can also happen as a result of other conditions such as rheumatic fever, heart attacks, and heart diseases such as infective endocarditis.
There are also other causes of heart murmurs apart from these conditions. These would include anemia, overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism, fever, pregnancy, and high blood pressure.
Actually, heart murmurs can be classified according to their characteristics such as timing, pitch, shape, quality, intensity, location, and radiation. Timing refers to the time when the murmur occurred, whether it is systolic or diastolic. As for the pitch, it is classified as low, medium, and high. The pitch can be determined through the use of a stethoscope. When we talk about location, it refers to the place where the murmur is best auscultated. As to the radiation, it refers to where the sound of the murmur radiates and as a general rule, the murmur radiates to the direction of the blood flow. On the other hand, intensity refers to the loudness of the murmur.
According to WebMD, murmurs can be detected through a physical exam wherein the physician will listen to the patient’s heart through a stethoscope. Aside from that, it can also be detected through an ECG wherein the electrical heart activity is measured.
In treating heart murmurs, the treatment depends on the cause of the murmur. For innocent heart murmurs, treatment is not necessary as this is harmless and do not indicate any serious medical condition.
On the other hand, treatments for heart murmurs can include prophylactic antibiotics or preventive antibiotics that will prevent the risk of having heart infections. As for drug treatments, it can include antiarrhythmics that help in controlling irregular heartbeats, anticoagulants which help in preventing blood clots, vasodilators which help in relaxing and opening the blood vessels so that the heart’s workload will be decreased, and diuretics which help in eliminating the excess water and salts in the body to lower the blood pressure.
– Heart Murmur Introduction and Symptoms – WebMD