Most people have heard of a heart murmur but only a select few truly know what it is. A heart murmur is essentially an abnormal heart beat. It is found when a doctor listens to your heartbeat with a stethoscope. It is not entirely uncommon for someone to have a heart murmur. Most heart murmurs are not a danger but that is not always the case. It is important to understand the causes of a heart murmur and the impact it can have on your life.
A heart murmur is caused when blood flows through a damaged heart valve. The number one job of the heart is to pump blood to all parts of your body and get the proper amount of oxygen to your organs and tissues. When a heart valve is damaged it is more of a challenge for this to happen and can cause a number of side effects.
Causes of a heart murmur vary. Sometimes a heart murmur is genetic. If you or someone else in your family has a heart murmur it is important to make every one aware so they can get checked out as well. Another common way to get a heart murmur is simply by a defect at birth.
If you are currently living a lifestyle filled with unhealthy habits you are at risk for all kinds of problems including a heart murmur. By consuming alcohol in excess, by smoking cigarettes, and by eating poorly you are setting yourself up for a world of health problems.
A lesser known cause of heart murmurs is when a person comes down with a viral or bacterial infection. This doesn’t happen very often but it can certainly damage a heart valve and cause a heart murmur.
Since your heart valve is damaged the heart will struggle to pump the proper amount of blood to your extremities. This can cause a number of side effects but most are not life threatening. There are two very common side effects to look out for. If you are unaware of a heart murmur and notice these side effects, see a doctor and find out if a heart murmur is the root cause.
The first side effect is increased swelling around your ankles. This is called “ankle edema.” The second side effect is difficulty breathing. Both of these symptoms can obviously be caused by a multitude of health issues and not just a heart murmur. But be aware of them. If these side effects are severe they can truly restrict your quality of life. Ankle swelling and difficulty breathing make it a serious challenge to do any physical activity.
There are two different classes of a heart murmur.
The basic treatment for a heart murmur is to run some blood tests and receive an echocardiogram. But if your heart murmur is more serious or needs further treatment it may be time to see a heart specialist.
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