Heart murmur symptoms are only seen with some heart murmurs and include a constellation of signs suggestive of poor circulation. Often, the heart murmur is diagnosed before symptoms emerge, since it can readily be heard on a physical examination. If symptoms change or worsen, it is a sign that the heart is working harder and it may be time to consider some treatment options. A cardiologist oversees care for a patient with a heart murmur.
Heart murmurs are changes in the heart sound caused by the way the blood moves through the valves of the heart. Many are harmless, and are simply natural variations in heart function. People with innocent heart murmurs, as they are known, usually do not have any symptoms and the abnormal heart sound is identified and noted during a routine examination. In other cases, a heart murmur is a sign of a problem with a valve in the heart, ranging from a congenital defect to disease, and the patient develops symptoms indicative of an impaired circulatory system.
Some common heart murmur symptoms include a bluish tinge to the skin, especially at the extremities, along with shortness of breath, fast breathing, chest pain, dizziness, fatigue, fainting, enlarged neck veins, lack of interest in food, and enlarged neck veins. These heart murmur symptoms are associated with the heart's struggle to circulate blood effectively. People with dangerous heart murmurs usually have difficulty exercising and may experience pain and discomfort when engaging in strenuous or stressful activities.
In patients with an innocent heart murmur identified during an examination, a doctor may recommend some testing to learn more about the heart's function and to confirm that the patient is healthy. The patient may also be advised about heart murmur symptoms so that he or she is aware of the warning signs of a developing problem. Patients who have a heart murmur and symptoms will also need testing to find out why the heart is having trouble pumping blood normally, and treatment options such as medications and surgery can be considered.
While it can be frightening to receive a diagnosis of a heart murmur, it is important to be aware that many people live healthy, active lives with murmurs and are sometimes entirely unaware of them. A cardiologist can be consulted to learn more about a specific murmur and to provide advice and recommendations to help the patient stay healthy. Patients may also find it helpful to talk to other people with murmurs to learn more about living with a heart murmur and coping with heart murmur symptoms.