Heart murmurs

Chest | Cardiology | Heart murmurs (Disease)


A person that has a heart murmur has an extra sound made by the heart during each heartbeat. Types of murmurs include: systolic murmur, diastolic murmur, continuous murmur.

Causes and Risk factors

Heart sounds and heart murmurs are caused by the flow of blood through the heart. A heart murmur is identified by listening to the heart with a stethoscope. Heart murmurs may be normal, or may be caused by heart disease.

A functional murmur or physiologic murmur is a heart murmur that is primarily due to physiologic conditions outside the heart, as opposed to structural defects in the heart itself. Functional murmurs are benign (an innocent murmur).

The familiar ‘lub-dub’ sound of the heartbeat is caused by the rhythmic closing of the heart valves as blood is pumped in and out of the chambers. A heart murmur is a sound caused by blood flow within the heart. Instead of ‘lub-dub’, the heartbeat may have an added sound like a hum, a whoosh or a rasp. The cause of the whooshing sound is the vibration of blood as it moves through the heart, which is normally undetectable by stethoscope.

Diagnosis and Treatment

All murmurs are analyzed for pitch, loudness, and duration. They are also graded according to their intensity (on a scale of one to six, with one being very faint and six being very loud).

The treatment for a heart murmur depends on the underlying cause of the murmur. Treatment for a heart murmur may include medications to improve heart pumping or heart rate, blood thinners, and heart valve surgery.


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