Ask the Cardiologist: What exactly does it mean to have a heart murmur?

Dr. Maciej Malinski is on the medical staff at Sherman Hospital. He has been kind enough to answer some frequently asked questions related to maintaining a healthy heart in his Ask the Cardiologist series. To see all posts Dr. Malinski has written, just type “Ask the Cardiologist” into the search bar on the right.

Q: My dad has a heart murmur. What is it and does it increase the likelihood of a heart attack?

A: The heart murmur is a sound caused by turbulent blood flow. If somebody has a murmur, it usually means there is abnormal blood flow though the valves, causing turbulence. Patients with murmurs usually have some form of valve disease, either leaky valves (valvular regurgitation) or narrowed valves (valvular stenosis).

However, most murmurs are benign, and the valves typically do not have significant structural changes. Most doctors (and surely cardiologists) should be able to categorize the murmur as benign or pathological.

When in doubt, an echocardiogram (ultrasound of heart) is a cheap and fast way to diagnose cause of the heart murmur. But to answer your question in short, no, murmurs do not increase the risk of heart attack.

Do you have a question for Dr. Malinski? To submit your question, post it in the comments section below, visit the Sherman Health Facebook page, or email with the subject line “Question for Dr. Malinski.”

This post is published by Sherman Health to provide general health information. It is not intended to provide personal medical advice, which should be obtained directly from your physician.

About Sherman Health

Sherman Health has provided medical care to Northern IL since 1888, and is currently home to a network of over 600 physicians. The Sherman blogs are edited by me, Luke. Questions? Comments? Links? Email address is luke at shermanhealth dot com.
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