Heart murmurs can present in people for a variety of reasons.

At times, innocent heart murmurs present without any other medical conditions, but other times, heart murmurs can be a symptom of aortic valve disease.

What is a heart murmur?

A heart murmur is a blowing, whooshing, or rasping sound heard during a heartbeat. The sound is caused by turbulent blood flow through the heart valves or near the heart.

Sometimes, murmurs happen because blood leaks backwards when a valve doesn’t close tightly enough.

Other times, it happens when blood flows through a narrowed or stiff valve.

These heart murmurs are graded on a scale of one to six, with six being the most serious.

Some patients are told that they have an innocent heart murmur.

But what is that really?

Innocent heart murmurs are harmless sounds made by the blood. Usually, they do not cause any symptoms or problems and don’t need treatment.

But how do you know for sure your heart murmur is innocent?

According to Vaughn A. Starnes, MD, professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery and executive director of the USC CardioVascular Thoracic Institute of Keck Medicine of USC, heart murmur could be a symptom of a more serious issue. One percent of the population has bicuspid aortic valve disease.

That could be you.

Bicuspid aortic valve disease is a very treatable disorder. At Keck Medicine of USC, this disorder is treated by a biological valve replacement.

If you’ve been told you have an innocent heart murmur, we would urge you to make sure it is innocent and schedule a follow up evaluation with your cardiologist.

Schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC–CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting cvti.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment.

By Leonard Kim