Heart murmurs, also known as chest sounds, are blowing,
whooshing, or rasping sounds produced by turbulent blood flow
through the heart valves or near the heart.
A doctor can check heart sounds by listening with a stethoscope
over the surface of the chest. An echocardiogram may be used to
detect the cause of the murmur.
The heart has four chambers: two upper chambers (atria) and two
lower chambers (ventricles). The heart has valves that close with
each heart beat, causing blood to flow in only one direction. The
valves are located between the atria and ventricles, and between
the ventricles and the major vessels from the heart.
Normal heart sounds are called S1 and S2. They are the
"lubb-dupp" sounds that are thought of as the heartbeat. These
sounds occur when the heart valves close. Normally, there is no
sound when the heart valve opens. In a person with congenital
heart disease or heart valve disease, a "click" sound may be
heard during a physical exam.
Because the heart is also divided into a "right side" and a "left
side," sometimes these sounds may be divided. Most commonly noted
is a "split S2." This is caused when the right and left
ventricles relax and the valves close at slightly different
times. It is normal. But occasionally, the split can be a sign of
an abnormality, such as enlargement of one of the ventricles or
narrowing of a valve.
Murmurs occur when a valve does not close tightly (such as with
mitral regurgitation) and blood leaks backward. They also can
occur when the blood flows through a narrowed or stiff valve
(such as with aortic stenosis).
A murmur does not necessarily mean that you have a disease or
disorder, and not all heart disorders cause murmurs.
Murmurs are classified ("graded") depending on their ability to
be heard by the examiner. The grading is on a scale. Grade I can
barely be heard. An example of a murmur description is a "grade
II/VI murmur." (This means the murmur is grade 2 on a scale of 1
In addition, a murmur is described by the stage of the heartbeat
when the murmur is heard. When a murmur is more prominent, the
doctor may be able to feel it with the palm of the hand over the
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and vascular patients throughout North Texas and beyond. While
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