What does it mean when you have a heart murmur?

Dr. Allen Douma, who writes an advice column, answers a 60-year-old patient’s question about what a heart murmur actually is. A heart murmur occurs when the blood traveling away from the heart backpedals, or goes the wrong way. Any of the four heart valves that control the flow of blood can leak.

Murmurs can be temporary: sometimes pregnant women will have them, and they can occur in young people and elderly alike. According to the column I read, a heart murmur does not necessarily denote a serious heart problem. “The most common symptoms are difficulty breathing, fatigue and chest pain.” Some people can go for years without heart murmers being detected. The condition seems to be problematic mostly for elderly people, because it could indicate a problem with the heart valve that could lead to a more permanent blockage, or heart attack.

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