A heart murmur is an irregular sound that occurs during a normal heartbeat. Heart murmurs sound like a soft swishing noise that occurs alongside the normal “lub-dub” sounds of a healthy heartbeat. The swish is the sound of the irregular movement of blood in the heart. Murmurs can be caused by different factors, including:
Heart murmurs can be detected with a routine checkup using a stethoscope to listen to the way the heart is beating. Additional testing may be prescribed to provide additional information, including chest x-rays, electrocardiograms to monitor the heart's electrical activity or echocardiogram that uses ultrasound to observe the way the heart is functioning. A Holter monitor may also be ordered to keep track of the heart's activity over a longer period, typically a day or so. Blood tests also may be prescribed to check for underlying diseases that may be causing the murmur.
Many types of murmurs do not require treatment, and sometimes, a murmur can disappear on its own. When murmurs are caused by underlying medical problems like anemia or thyroid disease, the murmur will often subside once those conditions are treated. Murmurs that are caused by heart valve problems and murmurs that can increase the risk of clot formation or heart problems need special treatment, which can include medication or surgery to correct valve problems. Many types of valve surgeries can be performed using minimally-invasive techniques that are associated with fewer risks compared to traditional types of surgery. Patients who feel that their heartbeat is irregular or who have chest pain issues should make an appointment with Dr. Kasper at the Saddle River Medical Group.
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