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Maggie Hauser
Mr. Greg Jones
ENG 101- 103
17 February 2015

Heart Murmurs
The heart is one of the most vital organs in the human body. It pumps our blood through
our body after re-oxygenizing it, keeping our blood healthy and evenly distributed. As a person
living with two corrected heart murmurs, I find the inner workings of the heart and everything
about it, extremely fascinating. Abnormal patterns in beats of the heart can be very problematic,
as they can lead to heart diseases. A heart murmur in its basic form is an unusual sound in the
pattern of blood flow through the heart, usually identified by a whooshing or swishing sound.
When blood flows through the heart, usually a consistent whooshing, beating sound is
made. Under certain pathologic conditions, such as a narrowing of a heart valve or a small hole
in the ventricular septum, blood flow becomes turbulent (Akbari, 2) and a heart murmur can be
heard. These sounds can be distinguished into three groups; the first two are innocent and
abnormal, or harmful and harmless. The third group is considered possibly pathologic heart
murmur (Smythe 498) which means that the murmur would need further evaluation to decide
the harm it could do. Both of these types of murmurs are in most cases, easily lived with, through
scheduled doctors appointments and simple evaluations. These evaluations can include, physical
evaluations, echocardiograms and sonograms as well. These each serves a purpose. Physical
evaluations help the doctor observe whether the murmur, if it exists, is affecting the whole body.

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Echocardiograms and sonograms let the doctor understand the severity of a murmur by actually
looking at the heart and monitoring the blood flow patterns.
Innocent, or harmless murmurs are not dangerous and do not have underlying cardiac
pathology. (Smythe 497). When looking for this form of a heart murmur, this is when clinical
examinations, echocardiograms, and electrocardiograms (ECG or EKG) come into practice.
Abnormal, or harmful murmurs are dangerous, but finding and diagnosing them are the same as
when the doctor is looking for innocent heart murmurs. In some cases, when a murmur us
harmful, the patient may also need to undergo open-heart surgery to fix the issue. The next step
would be to then have continuous evaluations of the murmur to ensure it has been properly
solved. When a patient is diagnosed with a potentially harmful murmur, there must be a process
must be put in place in order to keep the murmur under observation to ensure it will not develop
into a more harmful murmur.
There are many causes and treatments for heart murmurs. If a heart murmur is found,
there are a few things that could have caused it. Heart murmurs, usually innocent ones, can
develop in pregnant women because of the added stress. There are a few other things that cause
them, in people who are seemingly of normal health. Anemia, or a lack of blood, can cause
murmurs, because there is not enough blood flowing through the heart valves. High blood
pressure and over active thyroid are also conditions, which cause heart murmurs through stress.
Fevers can also cause heart murmurs. There are many ways to treat heart murmurs. If a patient
has an underlying issue other than the murmur, the doctor will prescribe medication to treat it.
This could also include medication that would be taken before a dental appointment or surgery to
prevent infections. They also use procedures that remove salt water from the body in order to

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make blood pumping easier. The last way that heart murmurs can be treated, and usually the last
option, is for the patient to undergo surgery to correct heart defects that they were born with, or
heart valve disease.
In more detail, though they sound similar, echocardiograms and electrocardiograms are
very different. Echocardiograms are the simpler of the two. They are a basic sonogram that is
used specifically to measure the sound waves of the heart, in order to create a picture of the
heart. Echocardiograms are used to discover tumors, blood clots, heart valve issues, as well as
infections and previous heart attacks and other heart conditions, such as murmurs. An
electrocardiogram, more commonly known as an EKG, uses electrical activity to record activity
within the heart in a pattern of wavy lines on paper, similarly to the way that lie detectors do.
This process is used to find damage to the heart, changes in the heart walls, imbalances in
chemical and electrolyte imbalances, as well as irregular heartbeats that could inform a medical
professional of murmurs or other more serious conditions. This procedure is used when the
doctor suspects a heart murmur is present in a patient but they are still unsure. The largest benefit
of both echocardiograms and electrocardiograms is that, though they take a little time for the
actual test, the patient may return to their everyday activities directly after the procedures.
Heart murmurs, if they are monitored and the patient lives a healthy life, can be
completely harmless. Any form of the murmurs can be lived with when the patient is dedicated
to keeping their health on an observation schedule and also keeps an open dialogue with their
doctor. One thing a patient can do when they have or suspect they have a heart murmur, is to not
only contact a medical professional but to also do research on their own, in order to make sure
they understand the issues that come with heart murmurs. The other thing that a patient can do to

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prevent heart murmurs and to just ensure they remain healthy is to live a healthy life and keep
not only their heart healthy but also the whole body as healthy as possible.

Works Cited
Akbari et al. "Digital Subtraction Phonocardiography (DSP) Applied to the Detection and
Characterization of Heart Murmurs." Biomedical Engineering Online 10 (2011): n. page.
MEDLINE. Web. 17 Feb. 2015. <http://ccproxy.idm.oclc.org/login?
url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?
direct=true&AuthType=ip,uid&db=a9h&AN=71114815&site=ehost-live&scope=site>.

Smythe John F. et al. "Initial Evaluation of Heart Murmurs: Are Laboratory Tests Necessary?"
Pediatrics 60.4 (1990): 497-500. Health Source Nursing/Academic Ed. Web. 17 Feb.

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2015. <http://ccproxy.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?
direct=true&AuthType=ip,uid&db=hch&AN=4734693&site=ehost-live&scope=site>.