Signs and Symptoms of Heart Murmur

Heart murmurs usually do not cause symptoms. In most cases, innocent and abnormal heart murmurs are detected when a physician hears them through a stethoscope.

However, if a heart murmur affects the heart's ability to pump blood properly, the following signs and symptoms may develop:

  • Chest pain
  • Decreased tolerance for physical exertion
  • Light-headedness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath

In addition, the following symptoms may indicate a heart condition that could cause a heart murmur:

  • Blue coloring (cyanosis), particularly on the lips, fingertips, and inside the mouth
  • Dizziness, fainting
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged neck veins
  • Heavy sweating, even with little exertion
  • Lung sound changes
  • Poor appetite
  • Poor growth in children
  • Swelling
  • Unexplained weight gain

Heart Murmur Complications

People who have a heart murmur may be more susceptible to bacterial endocarditis. In some cases, physicians prescribe antibiotics for these patients before they undergo surgery or certain dental procedures (e.g., cleanings). This therapy, which is called endocarditis prophylaxis, is not as common now as it once was. In November 2007, new guidelines indicated that only a small group of heart murmur patients are at high risk for serious complications and need to take antibiotics before these procedures.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 18 Nov 2008

Last Modified: 18 Sep 2015