What are Heart Murmurs, causes, symptoms, and treatment?

Heart Murmurs image jpg
Heart Murmurs image jpg

Heart Murmurs are whooshing sounds made by the rapid turbulence of blood as it flows through the heart. The sound can be heard by the use of a stethoscope. Sounds are produced from the closing of the heart valves. They may at times be harmless. However, some are indicators of a serious heart condition. They may be present at birth for infants or later in adult life.

Causes of heart murmur.

They are a result of:

There are two kinds of murmurs.

  1. Harmless. These are more common in newborns and children. It poses no serious health problems. Causes may be;
  • Fever.
  • Hyperthyroidism.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Anaemia.
  • Exercise.

2. Worrisome heart murmurs.

Children and infants may have worrisome heart murmurs from a congenital heart defect. They Include:

  • Cardiac shunts where there is irregular blood flow between heart chambers or in blood vessels.
  • Holes in the heart e.g. atrial septal defects and ventricular septal defects. A hole forms before birth on the walls of the heart chambers.

In adults, the murmurs are from problems with the heart valve e.g. acquired heart valve disease. Conditions that can contribute to damage to the heart valves are:

Risk factors of Heart Murmurs

Children at risk include:

  • Family history of heart problems linked to murmurs.
  • Rubella in mothers during pregnancy.
  • Mothers suffering from uncontrolled diabetes during pregnancy.
  • Certain medications and drugs during pregnancy.

Conditions that can increase the risk are:

  • Anaemia.
  • Carcinoid syndrome.
  • Heart valve disease.
  • Endocarditis – These are infections that affect the lining of the heart.
  • Cardiomyopathy- weak heart muscles.
  • Hyperthyroidism.
  • Rheumatic fever history.
  • Disorders of the autoimmune e.g. lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Pulmonary hypertension.
  • Hypereosinophilic syndrome.

Prevention of Heart Murmurs

There is no known way to prevent heart murmurs. A healthy lifestyle can contribute to one having a healthy heart. This helped to decrease heart problems.


The doctor checks for :

  1. Volume- how loud the murmur is from a scale of 1-6.
  2. Pitch, whether it is high, medium, or low in pitch.
  3. Location of the murmur in the heart. whether it spread to the neck or the back.
  4. Timing of the murmur, when they occur.
  5. Sound changes with exercise or changing of body position.

Test include:


For innocent heart murmurs it is easy to treat them. They go away once the condition causing them is treated. For worrisome ones, treatment depends on the cause. Antibiotics are only recommended for people with; artificial heart valves or congenital heart defects. They prevent infections going to the heart.

Types of treatment used include:

1. Use of medications. These include:

2. Surgery. Used to correct conditions causing heart murmurs e.g. leaky heart valves. Heart surgeries are done depending on the heart condition. Include:

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