Heart Murmur Specialist

Donald Cedric Wallerson, MD

Cardiologist located in Bronx, NY

A heart murmur can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition requiring immediate or ongoing care. As a leading cardiologist in The Bronx, NY, Dr. Donald Wallerson has extensive experience diagnosing the cause of heart murmurs so patients can get the care they need for optimal health and wellness.

Heart Murmur Q & A

What is a heart murmur?

Normally, the heart makes a very distinct “lub-dub” sound as it beats. These sounds reflect the normal forward movement of blood from one chamber of the heart to another. In a heart murmur, there’s an additional “swooshing” noise that can be heard. This noise is caused by abnormal movement of blood inside and between the chambers. Heart murmurs are often detected during a routine physical exam when the doctor uses a stethoscope to listen to the heart.

What causes heart murmurs?

Heart murmurs can occur for different reasons, including:

  • high blood pressure
  • infection
  • fever
  • anemia
  • thyroid

Heart murmurs can also develop as a result of problems related to the structure or function of the heart’s valves, including:

  • regurgitation, when the blood flows or leaks backward through a valve
  • stenosis, thickening of a valve that interrupts the normal flow of blood
  • prolapse, where a valve doesn’t close completely

Pregnancy and some congenital heart defects can also cause heart murmurs.

How are heart murmurs treated?

Some mild heart murmurs are completely benign (not harmful) and will resolve on their own over time. In these cases, additional checkups may be ordered so the heart can be reassessed to determine if the murmur has resolved. Sometimes when a heart murmur is detected, additional testing like blood tests, x-rays, EKGs or echocardiograms may be ordered to determine its cause. Once the underlying cause is identified, treatment will be tailored to the patient’s specific needs. For instance, if an infection or a disease like thyroid disease is detected, those issues can be treated first with medication to determine if the murmur clears up. Likewise, if the patient has hypertension, treatments can be prescribed to bring the blood pressure back to healthy levels to determine if the heart murmur clears up. Some valve-related issues can also be controlled with medications. Other times, surgery may be required to correct a valve problem or a congenital defect in the heart. Today, many issues can be successfully resolved with minimally invasive surgery that uses very small incisions for faster healing.