Patient recieving a stethocscope check

Heart murmurs

What is a heart murmur?

A heart murmur is a swishing, whooshing, or rasping sound that occurs between the sounds of the heartbeat. These sounds are caused by turbulent blood flow and can be heard through a stethoscope.

Heart murmurs can occur from birth or develop later in life. Heart murmurs can be harmless or they can be a sign of underlying heart disease or structural issues.

What are the symptoms of a heart murmur?

Harmless heart murmurs, also called innocent heart murmurs, may not be associated with other symptoms.

However, a heart murmur may indicate heart disease or a structural issue with the heart if the following symptoms are present:

What causes a heart murmur?

Innocent heart murmurs

Innocent heart murmurs are common in babies and children. They can go away over time or be present throughout a person’s life without causing any issues.

Innocent heart murmurs can occur due to:

Abnormal heart murmurs

Abnormal heart murmurs can be caused by a structural issue with the heart that is present from birth or by an issue with the heart’s valves.

This includes:

How is a heart murmur diagnosed?

A heart murmur can be heard through a stethoscope and is often picked up during a routine exam.

Further testing may be required to identify if the murmur is innocent or abnormal.

This may include:

How is a heart murmur treated?

Treatment is not required for innocent heart murmurs.

Treatment for abnormal heart murmurs will depend on the underlying cause of the murmur.

Medications such as beta-blockers and blood thinners may be required if the murmur is related to heart disease. Heart surgery or a catheter procedure may be required if there is a structural issue with the heart.

How can heart murmurs be prevented?

Heart murmurs can’t be prevented, although lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of developing heart diseases associated with abnormal heart murmurs.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years