Abnormal Heart Sound or Murmur

Chest | Cardiology | Abnormal Heart Sound or Murmur (Symptom)


A heart murmur is an additional humming or whooshing sound that occurs between the heartbeats sounds. It is a continuous sound, audible with a stethoscope, produced when blood passes through particular areas of the heart. A heart has four chambers, two atria 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 named aortic, pulmonary, mitral and tricuspid, that direct blood flow in a specific route within the heart allowing the most efficient use of each heart beat to pump blood to the rest of the body. Heart murmurs are often asymptomatic, they are innocent and are only detected during a routine medical examination.


While the familiar lub-dub sound of the heartbeat is caused by the rhythmic closing of the heart valves, a heart murmur is caused by inadequate blood flow in the heart.

Heart murmurs may be caused by a number of factors or diseases, including: defective heart valves, holes in the walls of the heart like atrial septal defect or ventricular septal defect, pregnancy, fever, anemia.

Many children have innocent heart murmurs that do not require treatment. However a harmful heart murmur may be caused by congenital heart disorders, mitral regurgitation, aortic regurgitation, mitral stenosis, damage to the cardiac muscle, anaemia, hyperthyroidism or stress.

Abnormal heart murmurs may be associated with various types of heart disease, particularly those affecting the heart valves. The presence of heart disease may be suggested by: pains in the chest, tachycardia i. e. accelerated heart rate, heart palpitations, breathlessness, fatigue and cyanosis.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Most heart murmurs are harmless (innocent) and don't need treatment. Some heart murmurs may require follow-up tests to be sure the murmur isn't caused by a serious underlying heart condition. Treatment, if needed, is directed at the cause of your heart murmurs. Physical examination includes assessing skin color, feeling and assessing pulses, evaluating the legs looking for swelling and edema, and listening to the lungs for signs of fluid build-up.