An unusual sound made by the heart is called a heart murmur. Heart murmurs may be diastolic, systolic, or continuous, depending on when they occur. A diastolic heart murmur is a noise made while the heart is filling up with blood. Systolic heart murmurs occur when the heart is pumping blood out. If a heart murmur is heard throughout the whole heartbeat, it is classified as continuous.
There are two basic types of heart murmur, regardless of whether it is a diastolic heart murmur or another classification. An innocent heart murmur does not indicate any problems with the heart. In other words, it is usually a harmless medical condition. If it is classified as abnormal, the patient may have other heart problems, such as a problem with the heart’s valves.
Patients with an innocent heart murmur will not typically experience any symptoms of the condition. An abnormal heart murmur may cause blue skin, particularly on the fingers and lips, shortness of breath, and weight gain. This condition may also cause chest pain, dizziness, and fainting, as well as excessive sweating. It is also possible for those with this condition to not experience any symptoms.
An innocent diastolic heart murmur, or other types, may be caused by any activity or condition that causes more rapid blood flow. This could include physical exercise, pregnancy, or a fever. It may also be caused by anemia, or lack of adequate red blood cells, and by hyperthyroidism, which is excessive amounts of thyroid hormones.
Heart murmurs that are abnormal and occur in children may be caused by a congenital birth defect. Possible defects include abnormalities in the heart valves or holes in the heart. An adult with an abnormal heart murmur may have suffered from endocarditis, which is an infection of the lining of the heart. It can also be caused by rheumatic fever or by valve calcification, which means that the heart valves become hardened.
A diastolic heart murmur may be diagnosed during a routine physical exam. Doctors can detect unusual noises with a stethoscope. Sometimes, this condition may be diagnosed at birth. If a diastolic heart murmur, or other type, is suspected, the patient may be referred to a specialist, such as a cardiologist.
Heart murmurs that are innocent do not typically require special treatment. Treating an underlying medical condition, such as hyperthyroidism, can resolve the condition. Abnormal heart murmurs may require monitoring and medication, such as drugs to lower blood pressure. A patient may sometimes need surgery to rebuild a blood vessel or to fix or replace a heart valve.