Types of Heart Murmurs & When to Seek Treatment
Heart murmurs are extra or unusual sounds—such as whooshing or swishing—made by blood circulating through the heart’s chambers, valves, or blood vessels near the heart. Approximately 40 to 45 percent of children and 10 percent of adults will experience a heart murmur at some time during their lives. We use the phrase “at some time” here because heart murmurs can come and go, often without causing noticeable symptoms.
That being said, all heart murmurs are not equal. Generally speaking, they come in two varieties: innocent and abnormal. Innocent heart murmurs aren’t a sign of heart disease and typically don’t require treatment, while abnormal heart murmurs require follow-up testing to determine the cause. In this brief article, we’ll be going over several different types of heart murmurs and how to know when to see a Tampa heart doctor, like Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC.
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A systolic murmur is a heart murmur that begins during or after the first heart sound and ends before or during the second heart sound. Essentially, it’s a heart murmur that occurs during the contraction of the heart muscle. These types of murmurs are divided into two categories:
Ejection murmurs: Murmurs that occur due to blood flow through an irregular valve or narrowed vessel
Regurgitant murmurs: Murmurs that occur due to backward blood flow into one of the chambers of the heart
A diastolic murmur, on the other hand, is a type of heart murmur that occurs during diastole, or the phase of the heartbeat in which the heart muscle relaxes and allows the chambers to fill with blood. If it’s easier, you can think of it this way: systolic murmurs occur during systole (when the heart is emptying), and diastolic murmurs occur during diastole (when the heart begins to refill). Diastolic murmurs also typically occur due to a narrowing (stenosis) of the mitral or tricuspid valves or a regurgitation of the aortic or pulmonary valves.
As you can probably guess by its name, a continuous murmur is a heart murmur that occurs throughout the cardiac cycle. Essentially, it begins in systole and continues without interruption throughout diastole or part thereof. These types of murmurs occur when there is a constant shunt between a high and low pressure blood vessel. For instance, patients with patent ductus arteriosus, a heart defect in which blood is permitted to skip the circulation to the lungs, are more likely to have this type of murmur. Why? It’s because the extra blood flowing into the lungs causes higher pressure in the blood vessels. Differences in pressure increases the likelihood of a continuous murmur.
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When to See a Doctor
The vast majority of heart murmurs aren’t serious, but if you think that you or your child has a heart murmur, it’s best to make an appointment with one of the best Tampa cardiac specialists — Dr. Popat. As a board-certified cardiologist and patient advocate, he has the knowledge and years of experience necessary to inform you as to whether or not the heart murmur is truly innocent or if an underlying heart problem needs to be further examined and treated.
To consult Jesal V. Popat, M.D., FACC, the best cardiologist in Tampa, please call (813) 344-0934 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.
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