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Heart murmurs and other sounds


Definition:

A heart murmur is a blowing, whooshing, or rasping sound heard during a heartbeat. The sound is caused by turbulent (rough) blood flow through the heart valves or near the heart.

Alternative Names:

Chest sounds - murmurs; Heart sounds - abnormal; Murmur - innocent; Innocent murmur; Systolic heart murmur; Diastolic heart murmur

Causes:

Many heart murmurs are harmless. These types of murmurs are called innocent murmurs. They will not cause any symptoms or problems. Innocent murmurs do not need treatment.

Other heart murmurs may indicate an abnormality in the heart. These abnormal murmurs can be caused by:

Significant murmurs in children are more likely to be caused by:

Multiple murmurs may result from a combination of heart problems.

Children often have murmurs as a normal part of development. These murmurs do not need treatment. They may include:

  • Pulmonary flow murmurs
  • Still's murmur
  • Venous hum
What to Expect at Your Office Visit:

A doctor or nurse can listen to your heart sounds by placing a stethoscope over your chest. You will be asked questions about your medical history and symptoms, such as:

  • Have other family members had murmurs or other abnormal heart sounds?
  • Do you have a family history of heart problems?
  • Do you have chest pain, fainting, shortness of breath, or other breathing problems?
  • Have you had swelling, weight gain, or bulging veins in the neck?
  • Does your skin have a bluish color?

The doctor may ask you to squat, stand, or hold your breath while bearing down or gripping something with your hands to listen to your heart.

The following tests may be done:

References:

Goldman L. Approach to the patient with possible cardiovascular disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 50.

Sabatine MS, Cannon CP. The history and physical examination: An evidence-based approach. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 12.

Nishimura RA, Otto CM, Bonow RO, et al. 2014 AHA/ACC Guideline for the Management of Patients With Valvular Heart Disease. Circulation. 2014;129(23):2440-92.


Review Date: 5/13/2014
Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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