What are heart murmurs?
Heart murmurs occur when one or more of your heart valves are either leaking or narrowed. Heart valves make sure blood flows in the correct direction through the heart. If there is a defect with the valve, this may prevent the correct closure during the cardiac cycle resulting in a forwards or backwards leak. A defect may be present form birth or can develop with time. Treatment depends on the severity of the leak or narrowing of the valve and the symptoms.
Heart murmurs may be detected when your doctor listens to your heart sounds with a stethoscope.
What are the symptoms for heart murmurs?
Patients who have heart murmurs may be symptom-free and they may only be found as an incidental finding.
Patients may, however, present with symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest pain, syncope (dizziness and blackouts).
What assessment do I need if I have heart murmurs?
Heart murmurs are often picked up on routine examination and the most likely examination needed will be an echocardiogram to look at the valve and to assess the function of the heart.
What are the treatments for heart murmurs?
The need for therapy will depend very much on the severity of the symptoms you have been experiencing, the results of the investigations and the possible risks posed by the condition.
Heart murmurs can be managed with medication to control any underlying cause or may simply be monitored regularly. In some cases, a surgical approach may be required to repair or replace the valve.
All options will be discussed with you and regular follow up assessments may be necessary to keep an eye on your progress.