Heart Murmurs and Valve Disease
What causes heart murmurs?
Abnormal heart murmurs in adults are usually related to defective heart valves. Abnormal heart murmurs in adults may be related to:
- Valve calcification
- Rheumatic fever (PDF)
Some heart murmurs, called innocent murmurs, may occur in children. They are not considered to be serious and may be caused by:
Heart murmurs related to valve problems should receive follow-up care.
Not every murmur is associated with valve disease. Murmurs can also be caused by conditions that may temporarily increase blood flow such as:
- Rapid growth spurts in children
Diagnosing the Cause: Types of Heart Murmurs
Your health care provider will investigate the root cause of the heart murmur. Clues about the cause can be based on the loudness, location and quality of the murmur. Loudness is graded from 1 to 6. A grade of 1 is very faint, heard only with a special effort. A grade 6 is extremely loud and can be heard with a stethoscope even without touching the chest.
The location, duration and loudness of the murmur can help your health care provider determine which heart valve is involved as well as the severity.
Other tests may be done to decide if the murmur needs further investigation including:
As with most conditions, heart murmurs and any underlying problems can vary in severity and risk.
Seeking a Qualified Health Care Professional or Specialist
Any time a murmur is suspected to be associated with a valve problem that may need treatment or repair, it’s wise to look for a qualified health care professional with experience diagnosing and treating your condition. A specialist who regularly manages valve disease can assess your condition and offer treatment options.