Murmur (Heart Murmur)
What Is It?
A murmur is a sound which can be heard through a stethoscope while a physician listens over the heart.
- A murmur is a sound which can be heard through a stethoscope while a physician listens over the heart.
- The sound is usually created by blood moving through heart valves.
- Most murmurs do not indicate a serious problem. In some cases, significant heart valve abnormalities or congenital heart defects may first be detected because of a heart murmur.
A More Detailed Explanation
When fluid is forced out of a container through a small opening, turbulence is created and the fluid sprays out. This spray can even create a sound, especially if the opening is very small or irregular and the force is large. With every heart beat, our hearts move blood from containers (upper and lower chambers of the heart) through small openings (the heart valves). So some turbulence of blood within our hearts is normal, and may even create a sound (murmur) which can be heard with a stethoscope.
Murmurs reflecting normal heart function can be heard in young people (because their hearts pump more vigorously in general), in thin individuals (because the stethoscope is physically closer.
In most normal individuals, valves “leak” a little when they are in the closed position. In fact, echocardiograms (ultrasound evaluations of the heart) display a tiny leak in one or more heart valves in well over 80% of normal patients. Because the “opening” in a closed leaky heart valve is usually very small, the murmur created can be fairly loud. In fact, severe leaks (due to large openings) may produce very soft murmurs or no murmurs at all.