Heart Murmurs

What causes a heart murmur?

Heart murmurs may be caused by a number of factors or diseases, including:

  • defective heart valves

  • holes in the heart walls (atrial septal defect or ventricular septal defect)

  • pregnancy (increased blood volume)

  • fever

  • anemia (a decrease in the red cells in the blood)

What are the different types of murmurs?

All murmurs are analyzed for pitch, loudness, and duration. They are also graded according to their intensity (on a scale of one to six, with one being very faint and six being very loud).

Types of murmurs include:

  • systolic murmur - occurs during a heart muscle contraction. Systolic murmurs are divided into ejection murmurs (due to blood flow through a narrowed vessel or irregular valve) and regurgitant murmurs.

  • diastolic murmur - occurs during heart muscle relaxation between beats. Diastolic murmurs are due to a narrowing (stenosis) of the mitral or tricuspid valves, or regurgitation of the aortic or pulmonary valves.

  • continuous murmur - occurs throughout the cardiac cycle.


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