Heart Murmur: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A heart murmur is a blowing, whooshing, or rasping sound made by blood moving through the heart or the blood vessels near the heart. Murmurs can be heard through a stethoscope.

Heart murmurs can occur during pregnancy or during a temporary illness, such as a fever. These murmurs usually are not a problem and go away on their own.

However, sometimes a heart murmur is a sign of a serious problem, such as congenital heart disease or heart valve problems, that may need treatment. You may need more tests to check your heart. The treatment depends on the specific heart problem causing the murmur.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. You will get more details on the specific medicines your doctor prescribes.
  • Follow a heart-healthy lifestyle to help keep your heart and body healthy.
    • Do not smoke. Smoking increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good.
    • Eat heart-healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats, and low-fat or nonfat dairy foods. Limit sodium, sugars, and alcohol.
    • If your doctor recommends it, get more exercise. Walking is a good choice. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk every day. Try for 30 minutes on most days of the week. You also may want to swim, bike, or do other activities.
    • Stay at a healthy weight. Lose weight if you need to.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You cough up pink, foamy mucus and you have trouble breathing.
  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have a seizure.
  • You have symptoms of a stroke. These may include:
    • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    • Sudden vision changes.
    • Sudden trouble speaking.
    • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
    • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
    • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or increased shortness of breath.
  • You feel dizzy or lightheaded, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have sudden weight gain, such as more than 2 to 3 pounds in a day or 5 pounds in a week. (Your doctor may suggest a different range of weight gain.)
  • You have increased swelling in your legs or feet.
  • You have a fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.