This Is What Really Causes Heart Murmurs

When you listen to your heart with a stethoscope and it makes a whooshing or swishing sound as opposed to a "lubb-dupp," that indicates a heart murmur (per Mayo Clinic). The difference in sound is the result of unusual blood flow across the heart valve (per Cleveland Clinic).

Though it may seem scary, not all heart murmurs are signs of abnormalities. In fact, some murmurs exist from the start of life. It's not uncommon for heart murmurs to stem from exercise, pregnancy, anemia, hyperthyroidism, puberty, or fever. Though exercise can benefit overall heart health, nothing can be done to prevent exercise-related heart murmurs. 

If a heart murmur is dangerous, it will be accompanied by other signs such as chronic cough, chest pain, heavy sweating for no reason, and blue skin, fingertips, and lips, among other symptoms. According to Better Health, a racing heart is another symptom of an abnormal heart murmur.

Heart disease and heart murmurs

According to Cleveland Clinic, the most common cause for heart murmurs is valvular heart disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines valvular heart disease as a damaged or diseased heart valve. The heart has four valves, each with its own route of blood flow. A damaged or diseased heart valve is incapable of fully opening and closing during the heartbeat. As a result, not enough blood is pumped from the heart to the rest of the body, which could possibly result in heart failure or cardiac arrest.

An abnormal heart murmur is a sign of valvular heart disease, particularly when the murmur is coupled with shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, fatigue, dizziness or fainting, rapid weight gain, or irregular heartbeat. Once a doctor hears a heart murmur, an echocardiography may be conducted to see which heart valves are working properly and which ones are damaged or diseased.

Medicine is typically the treatment of choice but in some cases, surgery may be necessary. In fact, the damaged or diseased valves may need to be replaced completely.