A heart murmur is an unusual or extra sound heard during a heartbeat. Murmurs can range from faint to loud, and often sound like a whooshing or swishing noise. Heart murmurs can be due to congenital heart defects, valve abnormalities, infections in the heart or heart failure. Some heart murmurs are harmless, while others indicate a serious abnormality.
Why Choose The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center?
Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center provides an integrated approach to treating heart disease, including murmurs. Patients are often referred to cardiologists for evaluation of heart murmurs; if the murmur turns out to be the result of a serious heart problem, the cardiologist may follow the patient or refer him or her for treatment.
What Is a Heart Murmur?
Heart murmurs related to problems or conditions outside of the heart are called functional or physiologic murmurs. Another term used for this is innocent heart murmur.
Murmurs may also be the cause of underlying structural heart disease, such as narrowing or leaking of the valves. These murmurs are often referred to as pathologic murmurs. Symptoms that may be associated with this type of murmur include:
- Shortness of breath
- Heavy sweating with little exertion
- Chest pain
- Enlarged neck veins
- Enlarged liver
If you have these symptoms, a physician experienced in heart conditions should evaluate you.
What Causes a Heart Murmur?
Functional or physiologic heart murmurs occur in at least half of all children at some time. They may last throughout an individual’s life without ever causing problems. Functional heart murmurs may increase in intensity during fever, pregnancy and anemia.
Among the conditions that can cause pathologic heart murmurs are: