Heart Murmur - Experience

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What is a heart murmur?

A heart murmur is a continuous sound that is audible with a common stethoscope, produced when blood passes through particular areas of the heart. The heart has four chambers, two atria (singular = atrium) and two ventricles separated by a "skeleton" of cartilage that separates each chamber. This skeleton is made up of the atrial septum, the ventricular septum, and four valves (aortic, pulmonary, mitral, and tricuspid) that direct blood flow in a specific route within the heart allowing the most efficient use of each heartbeat to pump blood to the rest of the body.

How the heart works

  • Each heartbeat has two phases, systole when the heart pumps and diastole when the heart chambers fill with blood.
  • Blood enters the right atrium from the body via the vena cava.
  • It travels through the tricuspid valve into the right ventricle.
  • A systolic heartbeat sends the blood through the pulmonary valve, which separates the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery, to the lung.
  • In the lung, oxygen is delivered to red blood cells and carbon dioxide, a waste product of metabolism, is removed.
  • The oxygenated blood returns to the left atrium where it travels through the mitral valve into the left ventricle.
  • The systolic heartbeat also causes the left side of the heart to contract and send the blood through the aortic valve that separates the left ventricle and the aorta.
  • Blood passes through the aorta to the body delivering oxygen to the body's tissues.

The sound of a murmur is generated when blood flow within the heart is not smooth and turbulence occurs. Using a stethoscope, a health care practitioner may be able to hear a heart murmur during the physical examination. Not all heart murmurs are abnormal or dangerous and may be innocent, but if one is present it may potentially signal a structural abnormality of the heart.

Picture of the heart and heart valves.
Picture of the heart and heart valves.
Return to Heart Murmur

See what others are saying

Comment from: GreenElbow, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: January 08

I've had a heart murmur since I was a child; I had rheumatic fever and shortness of breath. Last year I had 5 blockages in my heart, one was 95% blocked. Needless to say I had to have surgery. I wonder if the murmur have anything to do with the blockages or surgery.

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Comment from: Mina, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: November 18

I'm 35 and I was just told by my doctor that he can hear a slight heart murmur. However he didn't tell me that I have to see a specialist. I never had any problems in my heart area except maybe once a year I get a sudden sharp pain around it that goes away in few seconds. It's been happening almost all my life but extremely rare. Also I am anemic so I was wondering maybe it's my anemia that caused the murmur to appear. I'm a bit worried, wondering if I should see a specialist after all.

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