There are many people who suffer from heart murmurs. Although it is true that most of the time they are harmless, it is worth knowing about them. Basically they occur due to an uneven flow of blood that causes a strange sound when passing through the blood vessels and valves of the heart: a murmur.
Heart murmurs can be classified in different ways according to their degree of incidence, the majority of them, as we said, being harmless. They can, however, sometimes hide a more serious anomaly in the heart, hence the importance of taking them into account and knowing their symptoms. We invite you to discover all the information below. Take note!
1. What is the origin of a heart murmur?
- A heart valve that has some type of problem: The heart murmur can be caused, for example, by a thickened valve. A congenital problem that in the long run may require some kind of intervention. Sometimes diseases like atherosclerosis can also cause this problem, hence the importance of proper health care and a schedule for regular checkups with your cardiologist.
- Anemia: Did you know that anemia also can cause a heart murmur? That’s right, and this is due to an absence of red blood cells and therefore the blood oxygen level is lower and our heart is forced to pump faster which can lead to a heart murmur. So watch your iron levels!
- Problems between the two heart chambers: essentially the communication between the two atria, or between the two ventricles of the heart. Its origin is also usually congenital.
- Atherosclerosis: this is a disease that we must consider since it affects both our arteries and our heart valves. The damage is produced by a narrowing which causes an abnormal rhythm in blood circulation and emits a particular hiss in the arteries (heart murmur).
- Other related issues: sometimes fever or a problem in our thyroid can also cause a heart murmur. We must take this into account.
2. Symptoms of a heart murmur
Often we associate fatigue with the symptoms of a heart murmur. Moreover, in the case of women, heart problems usually occur without us paying much attention. Factors such as stress, worry or the classic daily exhaustion cause us to not give much importance to things we label as “normal” when in fact they are not normal. It is important to know how to listen to your body, respond to what it tells you and not to neglect any aspect related to your health. Take note of the following warning signs:
- When you exert yourself a little, you notice that immediately afterward, your heart races. Climbing a ladder or staircase, running a little to catch the subway or running around in the morning as you get ready, you immediately feel the characteristic fatigue and an increase in your heart rate. This is the most characteristic.
- You have trouble breathing. For example, when you’ve walked a little while, you notice that you have to stop because you are short of breath.
- You feel pain in the chest, like a burning plate attached to this area of your body, every time you exert yourself a little.
- In more severe cases, it is common that after climbing stairs or walking for some time, your lips and fingertips acquire a bluish hue. This is a symptom of a high lack of blood oxygen that is known as cyanosis and, therefore you should inform your doctor.
- You have swelling and constant fluid retention.
- After some small exercise your neck veins swell noticeably.
- You must also be very vigilant in the case of the smallest symptom. If you notice that your children are not developing according to their age, and that they are often very tired, make this known to their pediatrician.
3. Can you prevent a heart murmur?
Keep in mind that heart murmurs are due in part to congenital problems, so the most appropriate action in these cases will be to always follow the guidelines and recommendations from your doctor. Maintaining a good quality of life and healthy habits will always help us to prevent many heart problems, so never be hesitant to follow these guidelines:
- Watch your cholesterol levels. In this way, we can prevent the hardening of arteries and veins, and maintain proper blood circulation.
- Maintain adequate levels of iron to avoid suffering from anemia. Never neglect the foods which are rich in iron and vitamin C that will help you prevent anemia.
- Maintain a balanced and varied diet, where you restrict your fat intake, processed industrial foods, refined flour and salt.
- There are teas and infusions that are well suited for heart health, such as horsetail, lemon balm, valerian root, hawthorn, infusion of rosemary and rue or even green tea infusions. You will love them!
- A bit of gentle exercise each day. If you do not have any serious heart problems, never neglect to do some exercise to keep your heart going. Just a 20 minute walk, or a bit of swimming.
- Finally and most importantly, set up a schedule of periodic checkups with your cardiologist to rule out any problems. Your health is worth it.