I've been told on two separate occasions in the last 10-12 years that
I have a heart murmur. The most recent was about a month ago. The
doctor told me I have a "silent" murmur (but if it was silent, how come
she could "hear" it?).
What is a "silent" murmur and how is it different from any other
type of heart murmur?
Dear Karen, thank you for your question. I think a better term for "silent"
heart murmurs would be a "benign" murmur. Heart murmurs are caused by turbulent
blood flow through the heart chambers or by leaking cardiac valves that allow
blood to go in the wrong direction (also called regurgitation). Heart murmurs
can also be caused by increased blood flow in the heart when all cardiac structures
are entirely normal. A trained physician can often discriminate between benign
and significant cardiac murmurs with the stethoscope. Even a benign murmur can
be heard by the doctor, so you are correct in saying that it's not a silent murmur.
An echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) can image the cardiac valves and structures
to further investigate a murmur that is heard with a stethescope when the
physician is unsure about the sounds that are heard. Thus,
I suggest that you ask your physician why she thinks it's a benign murmur and
what that means for you. Most likely, you just have increased blood flow through
the heart which would be benign and would not be a cause for worry. I hope you
find this information useful.
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