An innocent heart murmur generally doesn't require treatment because the heart is normal. If innocent murmurs are the result of an illness, such as fever or hyperthyroidism, the murmurs will go away once that condition is treated.
If you or your child has an abnormal heart murmur, treatment may not be necessary. Your doctor may want to monitor the condition over time. If treatment is necessary, it depends on what heart problem is causing the murmur and may include medications or surgery.
The medication your doctor prescribes depends on the specific heart problem you have. Some medications your doctor might give you:
- Digoxin (Lanoxin). Digoxin is a medication that helps your heart squeeze harder, which can help if your heart murmur is caused by an underlying condition that weakens your heart muscle.
- Medications that prevent blood clots (anticoagulants). Your doctor may also prescribe anticoagulants, such as aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) or clopidogrel (Plavix). This prevents blood clots from forming in your heart and causing a heart attack or stroke.
- Water pills (diuretics). Diuretics remove excess fluid from your body, which can help treat other conditions that might worsen a heart murmur, such as high blood pressure.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. ACE inhibitors lower your blood pressure. High blood pressure can worsen underlying conditions that cause heart murmurs.
- Statins. Statins help lower your cholesterol. Having high cholesterol seems to worsen some heart valve problems, including some heart murmurs.
- Beta blockers. These drugs lower your heart rate and blood pressure. They are used for some types of heart valve problems.
Surgery or catheterization
Surgical or catheterization options also depend on your specific heart problem. Although open-heart surgery may be needed, sometimes the cause of the heart murmur is treated by inserting a catheter through an artery in your groin and threading the catheter through your veins to your heart to treat your condition (cardiac catheterization). Examples of procedures include:
- Patching a hole in your heart
- Fixing or replacing a valve
Doctors used to recommend that most people with abnormal heart murmurs take antibiotics before visiting the dentist or having surgery. That's usually not the case anymore. Most people with heart murmurs won't need antibiotics. If you have questions about whether or not you should take antibiotics, talk to your doctor.
Jun. 08, 2012
- Chatterjee K. Auscultation of cardiac murmurs. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Feb. 8, 2012.
- Heart murmur. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartmurmur/printall-index.html. Accessed April 12, 2012.
- Furster V, et al., eds. Hurst's The Heart. 13th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=5. Accessed Feb. 7, 2012.
- Frank JE, et al. Evaluation and management of heart murmurs in children. American Family Physician. 2011;84:793.
- Heart murmurs. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/CardiovascularConditionsofChildhood/Heart-Murmurs_UCM_314208_Article.jsp#.T4evW9Vr7To. Accessed April 13, 2012.
- Cardiovascular examination. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/cardiovascular_disorders/approach_to_the_cardiac_patient/cardiovascular_examination.html. Accessed April 13, 2012.
- Bonno RO, et al. 2008 Focused update incorporated into the ACC/AHA 2006 guidelines for the management of patients with valvular heart disease. Circulation. 2008;118:e523.
- Your guide to living well with heart disease. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/other/your_guide/yg_livingwell.htm. Accessed April 13, 2012.
- Grogan M (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 1, 2012.