Heart Murmurs

Possible Pathological Changes of the Heart Valves.

A Recent Case...

Sally, a twelve-year-old female, tries to run at a cross country practice and develops shortness of breath, blue extremities, and tachycardia. When the medic from the amulance listens to her heart, he can hear an extra sound. It has been decided that this patient has a heart murmur.

What is a Heart Murmur?

A heart murmur is an extra sound between the beats that a doctor hears through a stethoscope. The extra sound is just an additional noise that the blood makes as it flows through the heart. Doctors usually discover murmurs during regular checkups.

What Causes a Heart Murmur?

Heart murmurs are most often caused by defective heart valves. Innocent heart murmurs are sounds made by the blood circulating through the heart's chambers and valves or through blood vessels near the heart. They're sometimes called other names such as "functional" or "physiologic" murmurs. Innocent murmurs are common in children and are quite harmless. In any group of children, a large percentage is likely to have had one at some time. Innocent murmurs also may disappear and then reappear. Most innocent murmurs disappear when a child reaches adulthood, but some adults still have them. When a child's heart rate changes, such as during excitement or fear, the innocent murmurs may become louder or softer. This still doesn't mean that the murmur is abnormal.


An innocent heart murmur generally doesn't require treatment because the heart is normal. If innocent murmurs are the result of an illness, such as fever or hyperthyroidism, the murmurs will go away once that condition is treated. The medication your doctor prescribes depends on the specific heart problem you have.


American Heart Association-- http://www.heart.org/, The Children's Heart Institute-- http://www.childrensheartinstitute.org/, National Heart Blood and Lung Institute-- http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/, Mayo Clinic-- http://www.mayoclinic.com/