Conditions & Treatments

Heart Murmur

Heart murmurs are additional sounds made by blood flowing through the heart as it beats. Many murmurs are harmless (innocent), but some abnormal murmurs might signal a heart problem.

Heart Murmurs

What causes a heart murmur?

Heart murmurs may be caused by a number of factors or diseases, including:

  • Defective heart valves

  • Holes in the walls of your heart (atrial septal defect or ventricular septal defect)

  • Pregnancy (increased blood volume)

  • Fever

  • Anemia (a decrease in the red cells in the blood)

What are the different types of murmurs?

All murmurs are analyzed for pitch, loudness, and duration. They are also graded according to their intensity (on a scale of one to six, with one being very faint and six being very loud).

Types of murmurs include:

  • Systolic murmur. This occurs during a heart muscle contraction. Systolic murmurs are divided into ejection murmurs (due to blood flow through a narrowed vessel or irregular valve) and regurgitant murmurs (backward blood flow into one of the chambers of the heart).  

  • Diastolic murmur. This occurs during heart muscle relaxation between beats. Diastolic murmurs are due to a narrowing (stenosis) of the mitral or tricuspid valves, or regurgitation of the aortic or pulmonary valves.

  • Continuous murmur. This occurs throughout the cardiac cycle.

Treatment Programs


Massachusetts General Hospital understands that a variety of factors influence patients' health care decisions. That's just one reason why we're dedicated to ensuring patients understand their diagnosis and treatment options. Because a single option might not serve all patients, we offer a wide range of coordinated treatments and related services across the hospital. Patients should consult with their primary care doctor or other qualified health care provider for medical advice and diagnosis information.

Select a treatment program for more information:



Heart Center

  • Corrigan Women's Heart Health Program
    The Elizabeth Anne and Karen Barlow Corrigan Women's Heart Health Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Corrigan Minehan Heart Center cares for women of all ages through prevention and early detection of heart disease.
Imaging

  • Heart Imaging
    The Heart Imaging Program at Massachusetts General Hospital Imaging provides comprehensive diagnostic cardiac imaging, using state-of-the-art CT and MRI technology and with expert interpretation by specialty-trained cardiovascular radiologists.

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

MGH goes red for women’s heart health

MGH Hotline 2.18.11 Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the MGH Heart Center and Corrigan Women’s Heart Health Program brought attention to hearts everywhere by celebrating “Go Red for Women” month with a series of events and activities to raise awareness of heart disease in women.

Innovative care at the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center

Learn more about the latest treatment options for this condition at the Corrigan Minehan Heart Center.