What is a Heart Murmur?


A heart murmur is the sound made by the flow of blood in or near the heart. Doctors can hear the noise by listening with a stethoscope. There are two main types of heart murmurs: innocent and abnormal. Innocent murmurs are harmless and occur in people with healthy and normal hearts. They are caused by unusually fast blood flow. Innocent heart murmurs are most common in children and babies. Conditions that may cause the blood to flow more rapidly than normal include the following:

• Pregnancy
• Fever
• Physical exertion, including exercise
• Anemia
• Growth spurts
• Hyperthyroidism

An abnormal heart murmur, on the other hand, indicates a serious problem. If a child has an abnormal heart murmur, it generally indicates a congenital defect of the heart. In an adult, an abnormal heart murmur usually indicates acquired problems involving the heart valves.

Common congenital heart defects that can cause heart murmurs include abnormalities in the valves that cause them to not close properly or to not allow enough blood to flow through them. Other common defects include cardiac shunts or septal defects, with the latter sometimes being called “holes in the heart.”

Conditions that can cause heart murmurs in older children and adults include rheumatic fever, valve calcification and endocarditis. Valve calcification is caused by valves that become abnormally hard or thick, which makes it harder for the blood to flow through them. Endocarditis is caused by an infection of the heart’s inner lining. It is most common in people who already have heart disease affecting their valves.

What are the Symptoms?

Heart murmurs by themselves generally don’t cause symptoms other than the sounds they make. Abnormal heart murmurs, however, will often be accompanied by symptoms of heart disease that can include the following:

• Swelling or sudden weight gain
• Blue skin, especially around the fingertips or lips
• Enlarged liver and/or neck veins
• Heavy sweating with minimal or no physical exertion
• Chronic cough
• Shortness of breath
• Chest pain
• Failure to thrive in infants
• Fainting
• Dizziness

When Should Someone Go to the Doctor?

While heart murmurs are often not serious, it is still wise to see our doctor if someone believes that they or their child has a heart murmur. The doctor can examine the patient and determine what kind of heart murmur they have. Innocent heart murmurs don’t need treatment, while the conditions causing abnormal heart murmurs should be treated.

How is the Heart Murmur Diagnosed?

At NanoHealth Associates, our doctor will likely start with a physical exam, during which a stethoscope is used to listen to the patient’s heart. The doctor will listen for such characteristics as pitch, volume and location within the heart. If the doctor suspects an abnormal heart murmur, they will order any of several tests to diagnose it. Once a heart murmur is diagnosed, a form of treatment can be discussed.

We have locations in Tampa and Hollywood. Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more.


3700 Washington St Suite 400,

Hollywood, FL 33021

Phone. 954-980-0361


Miami Beach

300 W 41st St Suite 217,

Miami Beach, FL 33140

Phone. 305-760-8756