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Cardiac murmurs

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Heart murmurs are caused by turbulent blood flow through valves or ventricular outflow tracts.

Factors that cause cardiac murmurs can have effects throughout the body. A thorough examination may be sufficient for diagnosis and auscultation serves as supportive evidence. In practice, there is a limited combination of physical signs and murmurs.

Certain characteristics of cardiac murmurs can imply a specific diagnosis e.g. a continuous machinery-like murmur in a neonate indicates a patent ductus arteriosus.

Note: low- and medium-frequency sounds (eg mid-diastolic murmurs) are more easily heard with the bell of the stethoscope applied lightly to the skin. High-frequency sounds (eg some regurgitant murmurs, ejection murmurs) are more easily heard with the diaphragm.

Note also that as far as a cardiologist is concerned, a heart murmur is not a sound - it is a murmur.


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