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Clinical examination of heart murmurs

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

When listening to a patient's heart always consider the physical signs already elicited before auscultation commences.

Some hints concerning listening for murmurs:

  • time the cardiac cycle by palpating one of the patient's carotid arteries
  • the bell is good for hearing low-pitched sounds e.g. mitral stenosis. It should be applied very gently to the skin
  • the diaphragm is good for listening to high-pitched murmurs e.g. aortic regurgitation
  • left heart murmurs are louder in expiration
  • right heart murmurs are louder in inspiration
  • exercise makes a mitral stenotic murmur louder

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