A heart murmur is an abnormal sound within the heart that occurs in some individuals due to turbulent blood flow. Most types of murmurs are “innocent” and do not cause any health problems. In some cases, heart murmurs stem from a serious underlying issue with the heart or its valves, and there may be signs or symptoms.
Heart valve stenosis and regurgitation are potentially serious problems that can cause a heart murmur. With stenosis, one or more of the heart’s valves become narrow, impeding blood flow. With regurgitation, blood leaks back through the valve/s, diminishing heart function. Murmurs can be caused by various cardiovascular conditions.
Look out for the following heart murmur symptoms…
Jugular Vein Distention (Neck Vein Bulge)
Bulging of the jugular vein in the neck indicates that there is increased venous pressure in the superior vena cava, which delivers blood to the heart. This occurs when the heart isn’t functioning properly.
Jugular vein distention can be caused by tricuspid valve stenosis, heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, and other issues involving the heart. A heart murmur is commonly present with these conditions.
Blue Lips or Fingertips
A bluish skin discoloration, particularly of the lips, fingertips, and extremities, is a sign of cyanosis. Cyanosis occurs when there is poor blood circulation or a lack of oxygen in the blood.
When a person has a heart murmur and is showing signs of cyanosis, it is an indication that the body’s vital organs are not receiving enough blood. This can be a life-threatening medical emergency.
Chest pain doesn’t always signal a heart attack, as many people mistakenly believe, but it is one of the most common symptoms of heart disease – the underlying cause of most heart murmurs.
With conditions like aortic valve stenosis, for example, the heart must work harder to pump blood inside the body, which can cause a heart murmur and heart murmur symptoms such as chest pain.
Does your heart unexpectedly race or pound, or does it feel like it keeps skipping beats? Heart palpitations are another common symptom of heart disease that cause heart murmurs.
While palpitations often occur in people with problems unrelated to the heart, they can be caused by hypotension, coronary artery disease, heart failure, and heart valve abnormalities.
Shortness of breath (dyspnea) is a staple symptom of murmur-causing heart valve diseases, especially those that involve the aortic valve, such as aortic sclerosis and aortic stenosis.
Sometimes, shortness of breath indicates that a heart valve needs to be repaired or replaced. However, not all heart conditions that cause murmurs and shortness of breath are serious.
For most people, coughing isn’t a sign of heart trouble. But if you have a heart murmur and know you’re at risk for heart disease, pay special attention to the possibility.
A chronic cough that produces pink or white mucus can be a sign of heart failure, a complication of heart valve regurgitation, and other conditions. Untreated heart failure has a poor prognosis.
Dizziness or lightheadedness, like coughing, isn’t usually caused by a heart murmur or heart disease, but when this ailment is persistent, it can indicate that there is something wrong with the heart.
Heart valve problems and heart failure are known causes of dizziness. Low blood pressure (hypotension) can also make a person feel woozy and experience disorienting dizzy spells.
Although relatively uncommon, dizziness resulting from heart valve conditions, heart failure, and low blood pressure can cause fainting in some people. This is known as syncope.
Syncope is not typically life-threatening, but the underlying problems that cause it can be fatal. Losing consciousness suddenly can also lead to unexpected falls and injuries that can be dangerous.
Swelling of the Extremities
Swelling caused by excess fluid that builds up in the body’s tissues is called edema. It can be caused by medications, pregnancy, and eating salty foods, but it is also a known symptom of heart problems.
One of many heart murmur symptoms of heart disease, edema tends to affect the legs, ankles, and feet. However, swelling can occur in the arms, hands, abdomen, and face.
Sudden Weight Gain
Rapid, unexplained weight gain commonly occurs with the swelling men and women experience with edema. The swelling isn’t always noticeable, even when weight gain is significant.
Like swelling of the extremities, sudden weight gain can occur due to pregnancy, high salt intake, medications, or even kidney disease, but the underlying cause is usually related to the heart.
Sweating (Without Exertion)
Sweating that occurs with little to no exertion, particularly when it accompanies a rapid heartbeat, is often a strong indicator that the heart is not functioning properly and may be failing.
Heart failure can be caused by congenital or acquired problems involving the mitral valve, tricuspid valve, aortic valve, or pulmonary valve. These issues commonly cause heart murmurs.
Medical researchers have known for some time that there is a heart-brain-stomach connection, and a weak heart caused by a heart murmur heart condition can cause a poor appetite.
Loss of appetite can occur when the digestive system receives less blood, and increased levels of the hormone BNP (B-type natriuretic peptide) are released, causing problems with digestion.
Enlargement of the lungs or liver sometimes occurs with abnormal heart murmurs. This can result from congestive heart failure, fluid retention from cardiomyopathy, or congenital heart defects.
Children and newborns often have heart murmurs. Some are innocent and do not cause symptoms or complications. Others are dangerous, causing swelling of vital organs and occasionally death.