DefinitionA heart murmur is a sound made by turbulent blood flow in the heart. It sounds like whooshing or swishing with each heartbeat. Some adults and many children have incidental heart murmurs that are benign (harmless) and are not caused by abnormalities in the heart. However, some heart murmurs can signal an underlying heart problem.
|Heartbeat: Anatomy of the Heart|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
CausesBenign murmurs are caused by the normal flow of blood through the heart and large vessels near the heart. The murmur may come and go over time. Some things that can increase blood flow and cause a benign heart murmur to be heard include:
- Structural abnormalities of the heart valves (most common)—these may be congenital (present from birth) or acquired later in life. Examples include:
- Abnormal holes or connections in the structure of the heart or vessels persisting after birth:
- Structural abnormality of the heart muscle:
- Other congenital heart conditions, such as:
- Endocarditis —infection of the inner lining of heart valves and chambers (endocardium)
- Rheumatic fever—inflammation and damage of the heart valves from poorly treated strep throat
- Cardiac myxoma—a benign soft tumor within the heart (rare)
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