is an abnormal heart sound that results from the turbulent flow of blood through the heart. Heart murmurs are usually detected by a physician using a stethoscope to listen to the heartbeat. Most heart murmurs are harmless or “innocent,” which means they are not associated with a disease or condition of the heart. Many, if not most, children will have a heart murmur at some point in their lives.
However, heart murmurs may also be the result of an underlying heart condition, such as the narrowing of one of the heart’s four valves (valvular stenosis) or heart disease that has been present from birth (congenital heart disease).
The underlying cause of a heart murmur is usually diagnosed through painless tests such as an echocardiogram
blood tests and (if necessary) a minimally invasive test such as a cardiac catheterization
. A treatment plan will be designed based on the underlying condition.
Heart murmurs, in themselves, are typically not treatable. Nor do they warrant treatment. If, however, the physician determines through careful testing that a murmur is neither innocent nor a natural murmur resulting from fever or pregnancy, the underlying cause will be investigated and treated. Patients with existing valvular heart disease
or congenital heart defects may need to receive medical or even surgical treatment
There is no known method to prevent heart murmurs that are unrelated to other forms of heart disease. Certain conditions, such as pregnancy and rheumatic fever
, can cause heart murmurs. A physician may recommend a preventive program focusing on good overall cardiovascular health to reduce the risk of any future heart–related problems or complications.
It is generally recommended in the majority of patients that prophylactic antibiotics should be given prior to dental or surgical procedures. All patients with heart murmurs are advised to speak to their doctor about the need for prophylactic antiobiotics before any dental or surgical procedures. Such precautions may prevent infections from occurring on the heart (endocarditis
Individuals with innocent murmurs have an excellent prognosis and, in the vast majority of cases, will see no disruptions in their normal, everyday routine.