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Structural Heart

Your Heart's Roadmap

Your heart has four valves with tissue flaps that open and close with every heartbeat. These flaps act as a roadmap for the heart, guiding blood flow in the right direction through the four chambers of your heart and throughout your body. If a problem occurs with one of your heart valves, our team at the DMC is here to help you.

Although some people have heart valve defects they are born with or disease that has developed over time, they may not have symptoms or even any problems. In other cases, the heart valve problem may worsen and cause symptoms to develop. When left untreated, advanced heart valve disease can cause heart failure, stroke, blood clots, or even death.

Navigating Your Care

The Structural Heart/Valve Clinic at the DMC is designed to make your visit more efficient, saving you time away from work or home by making sure you can be seen by our entire team in just one day.

The Structural Heart Program at the DMC encompasses interventional technology as well as the latest in structural heart innovations. The variety of minimally-invasive treatment options gives patients a wide range of personalized choices with the ability to make an educated decision based on their specific diagnosis.

A patient navigator will make all the necessary appointments and schedule you with one of our cardiologists and a cardiovascular surgeon, who are skilled in some of the most innovative valve procedures, and work together to develop your personalized care plan.

What You Can Expect

A visit to the Valve Clinic might include reviewing any previous tests or imaging of your heart, or some new testing may be performed. There are various options for treating valve disease, and our team will discuss those with you. Surgery to fix or replace a faulty valve may be needed. If that is the case, we offer minimally invasive techniques to lessen pain and blood loss, and allow you to get back to your daily routine faster, with a healthier heart.

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More Information

Heart Murmur Symptoms: Do You Have Them?

A heart murmur is an uncommon sound that your doctor, using a stethoscope, may hear between heartbeats. The human heartbeat sounds like “lub-dub,” while heart murmurs produce a swishing or a whooshing sound.

Types of Heart Murmurs

There are two types of heart murmurs.

1. Abnormal

In adults, abnormal heart murmurs are usually linked to heart valve problems, diseases or infections. In children, it may be caused by birth defects or congenital heart malformations, which may be corrected with surgery.

2. Innocent

Innocent or functional heart murmurs are neither dangerous nor life-threatening. It occurs when your blood flows quicker through the heart than normal. You may experience a heart murmur if you’re anemic, if you’re pregnant, when you’re exercising or doing a physical activity, if you have fever, if you have hyperthyroidism or if you’re a teenager whose body is growing fast.

Common Heart Murmur Symptoms

If you have innocent heart murmurs, you are less likely to experience symptoms. On the other hand, if you have abnormal heart murmurs, symptoms may vary on the cause. But some of its most common symptoms include:

  • A cough that won’t go away
  • Blue skin around your lips and/or fingertips
  • Chest pain
  • Decreased tolerance for physical activity
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sweating (even without exercising too much)
  • Episodes of rapid heartbeat
  • Fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Symptoms of heart failure (at its worst)

Diagnosing Heart Murmurs

Doctors may find more information on what’s causing heart murmurs based on the position, quality and loudness of the murmur. They score its loudness from one to six, with the score of one considered very faint and with six considered extremely loud.

Some other tests that may help your doctor determine if your heart murmur requires further investigation include:

  • Cardiac catheterization
  • Chest x-ray
  • Echocardiogram
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)

Treatment Options for Heart Murmurs

The treatment for heart murmurs will depend on the cause of your condition. For innocent heart murmurs, patients may not need any treatment. For some cases of abnormal heart murmur, you may need to take medications, such as those that may help lower your blood pressure, may help lower your cholesterol levels or anti-coagulants that may help prevent blood clots from forming.

If the cause of your heart murmur is a hole in your heart or if your heart valves need to be replaced, you may need surgery, such as a valve repair or valve replacement. Some other non-surgical options may also be recommended by your physician.

Final Thoughts

Heart murmurs may be harmless and may go away on their own, but some cases require treatment as they may be a sign of a serious heart condition. If you are experiencing heart murmur symptoms, please see a heart doctor, learn more about the root cause of your condition and get the treatment you may need.

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Sources:
American Heart Association
Harvard Health Publishing
Healthline
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
University of Utah
KidsHealth