Heart murmurs and other sounds
St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Pediatric Center

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 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

Considerations

The heart has four chambers:

  • Two upper chambers (atria)
  • Two lower chambers (ventricles)

The heart has valves that close with each heartbeat, causing blood to flow in only one direction. The valves are located between the chambers.

Murmurs can happen for many reasons, such as:

  • When a valve does not close tightly and blood leaks backward (regurgitation)
  • When blood flows through a narrowed or stiff heart valve (called stenosis)

There are several ways in which your doctor may describe a murmur:

  • Murmurs are classified ("graded") depending on how loud the murmur sounds with a stethoscope. The grading is on a scale. Grade I can barely be heard. An example of a murmur description is a "grade II/VI murmur." (This means the murmur is grade 2 on a scale of 1 - 6).
  • In addition, a murmur is described by the stage of the heartbeat when the murmur is heard. A heart murmur may be described as systolic or diastolic.

When a murmur is more prominent, the doctor may be able to feel it with the palm of the hand over the heart.

The doctor will take the following into consideration when examining you:

  • Does the murmur occur when the heart is resting or contracting?
  • Does it last throughout the heartbeat?
  • Does it change when you move?
  • Can it be heard in other parts of the chest, on the back, or in the neck?
  • Where is the murmur heard the loudest?

Causes

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

Significant murmurs can be caused by:

  • Aortic regurgitation
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis)
  • Mitral regurgitation - acute
  • Mitral regurgitation - chronic
  • Mitral stenosis
  • Pulmonary regurgitation (backflow of blood into the right ventricle, caused by failure of the pulmonary valve to close completely)
  • Pulmonary stenosis
  • Tricuspid regurgitation
  • Tricuspid stenosis

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

Children often have murmurs as a normal part of development. These murmurs do not require treatment, and 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 using a tool called a stethoscope, which is placed 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?
  • What other symptoms do you have, such as:
    • Bluish skin color (cyanosis)
    • Chest pain
    • Distended neck veins
    • Fainting (syncope)
    • Liver enlargement
    • Lung sound changes
    • Shortness of breath
    • Swelling
    • Weight gain

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. Cecil Medicine. 24thed. 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'sHeart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 12.

Bonow RO, Carabello BA, Chatterjee K, de Leon AC Jr., Faxon DP, Freed MD, et al. 2006 Writing Committee Members; American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force. 2008 Focused update incorporated into the ACC/AHA 2006 guidelines for the management of patients with valvular heart disease: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines (Writing Committee to Revise the 1998 Guidelines for the Management of Patients with Valvular Heart Disease): endorsed by the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, and Society of Thoracic Surgeons. Circulation. 2008;118:e523-e661.



Review Date: 6/22/2012
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com


Back  |  Top
About Us
Contact Us
History
Mission
Locations & Directions
Quality Reports
Annual Reports
Honors & Awards
Community Health Needs
Assessment

Newsroom
Services
Brain & Spine
Cancer
Heart
Maternity
Orthopedics
Pulmonary
Sleep Medicine
Urgent Care
Women's Services
All Services
Patients & Visitors
Locations & Directions
Find a Physician
Tour St. Luke's
Patient & Visitor Information
Contact Us
Payment Options
Financial Assistance
Send a Card
Mammogram Appointments
Health Tools
My Personal Health
mystlukes
Spirit of Women
Health Information & Tools
Clinical Trials
Health Risk Assessments
Employer Programs -
Passport to Wellness

Classes & Events
Classes & Events
Spirit of Women
Donate & Volunteer
Giving Opportunities
Volunteer
Physicians & Employees
For Physicians
Remote Access
Medical Residency Information
Pharmacy Residency Information
Physician CPOE Training
Careers
Careers
St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile