ZocdocAnswersWhat is a heart murmur?

Question

What is a heart murmur?

I'm a pretty healthy gal, but sometimes my heart beats very quickly for like 20 seconds or so, then goes back to normal. Is this a heart murmur? What is a murmur anyway?

Answer

Questions or concerns about your heart can always be addressed with your primary care physician. He or she can perform a more detailed physical exam and history to help determine if any further testing is needed. The symptoms you are describing of a rapid heartbeat would be considered palpitations, or an irregular heartbeat. There are many things that can cause palpitations (stress, caffeine, lack of sleep, alcohol), and for some people occasional palpitations are not a significant concern. However, it is always best to have your physician go over any new symptoms such as palpitations to make sure that they are not associated with any other symptoms that could indicate something more serious. Sometimes physicians will have their patients wear a portable monitor for a few days that can record the electrical rhythms of the heart to see exactly what is happening when you feel the rapid heartbeat. A heart murmur is an abnormal heart sound created by a problem with one of the heart valves. Most murmurs cannot be felt by the patient but are instead heard by a physician listening to the heartbeat with a stethoscope. A close evaluation for any murmurs will be part of an exam for any patient presenting with new palpitations. Please discuss further with your doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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