A swishing sound caused by abnormal blood flow in or around your heart valves
Expert Heart & Vascular Care
Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our heart or vascular specialists.
Your heartbeat is the sound of your heart valves closing. If there is a problem with your valves, blood may flow abnormally through or around them, causing a whooshing or swishing sound between or after heartbeats. Your doctor can hear this turbulent blood flow using a stethoscope.
What are the causes of heart murmurs?
Heart murmurs can be present at birth, known as a congenital heart defect or develop later in life. Heart murmurs often are harmless, but they can be a sign of underlying heart valve disease or damage.
The most common causes of heart murmur are:
- Anemia, or not having enough red blood cells
- Atrial or ventricular septal defect, a hole in a wall separating the chambers of the heart
- Hyperthyroidism, a thyroid disorder in which the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or a thickening of the heart muscle
- Valve stenosis, a stiff valve that limits the forward flow of blood
- Valve regurgitation, a backward flow of blood because a heart valve doesn’t close completely
Diagnosing a potential heart or vascular condition is the first step to developing a treatment plan. Your doctor will likely use diagnostic imaging techniques such as an echocardiogram or a heart CT scan. Our specialists may recommend one or more diagnostic and imaging procedures.
Cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive way to diagnose and treat a variety of heart and vascular conditions by guiding thin, flexible tubes called catheters through blood vessels to problem areas.
Chest X-rays use a small dose of radiation to create pictures of the structures inside the chest, including the lungs, heart and chest wall.
The cardiac computed tomography scan, or cardiac CT, uses X-rays to create three-dimensional images of your heart and blood vessels.
An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create images of your heart.
An electrocardiogram, also known as an ECG, measures the heart’s electrical activity.
Magnetic resonance imaging, better known as cardiac MRI, is a combination of radio waves, magnets and computer technology to create images of your heart and blood vessels.
Stress tests are used to assess how your heart works during physical activity. There are several types of stress tests, including treadmill or bike stress tests, nuclear stress tests, stress echocardiograms and chemically induced stress tests.
If there is no underlying condition causing your heart murmur, you may not require treatment. If your heart murmur does require treatment, our heart and vascular teams work together and with other specialties to develop and implement individualized plans to treat you. This could include medication or more advanced surgical treatments.
Balloon valvuloplasty improves blood flow through the heart to the lungs and body by opening a stiff heart valve.
Transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is a minimally invasive option to replace a narrowed aortic valve that fails to open properly and blocks the flow of blood.
Valve sparing surgery is a procedure to repair an aortic root aneurysm without replacing the aortic valve.