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How to Detect when a Heart Murmur is Dangerous

By Contributor ; Updated July 27, 2017

A heart murmur is an abnormal sound heard between heartbeats that is similar to a whooshing or swishing sound. Heart murmurs are common in infants and children and generally disappear as the child reaches adulthood. According to the article Heart murmurs by the staff of the Mayo Clinic of Rochester, MN, nearly half of all children have a heart murmur at some time in their life. Heart murmurs can be present at birth or may develop in adults later in life. In most instances, heart murmurs are harmless. However, some heart murmurs can be a symptom of a more serious heart condition.

Know the Symptoms of a Dangerous Heart Murmur - A heart murmur in itself is not dangerous and does not present symptoms. However, according to the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Fairview, a heart murmur that is associated with a heart problem may show the following symptoms:

• Shortness of breath • Chest pain • Rapid heart beat • Lightheadedness • Tiredness when performing everyday activities • Blue-tinged fingertips and lips • Enlarged neck veins • Fainting • Weight gain

Understand some of the Causes of Adult Heart Murmurs - Heart murmurs that develop later in life can be caused by illnesses or damage to the heart. Some causes of heart murmurs are: • Rheumatic fever - This rare but serious condition occurs when strep throat is left untreated. Rheumatic fever can cause damage to the heart valves and interfere with the blood flow to the heart. • Endocarditis - This is caused when bacteria spreads through the blood stream and causes an infection inside the heart, resulting in damaged heart valves.
• Valve calcification - As you age, heart valves can harden and thicken making it more difficult for blood to flow through the heart.

Know the Other Causes of Heart Murmurs - Many times a heart murmur may be the result of another health issue that causes the heart to beat faster. Some of these main health issues include high blood pressure, anemia, fever, stress, pregnancy and hyperthyroidism. In these cases, treatment for the health problem will usually make the heart murmur disappear.

Talk to Your Doctor - In the majority of cases, heart murmurs need not be treated unless they are associated with a life-threatening heart problem. If you have been diagnosed with a heart murmur in the past and are experiencing some or all of the symptoms described above, then it is important to see your doctor for tests so you can be treated for the heart problem that is causing the symptoms.

Tips

Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and not smoking are ways to avoid developing heart disease.

Warnings

See a doctor if you have any symptoms of heart disease such as high blood pressure, rapid heart beat and chest pain.

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