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What your doctor listens for when checking your heart

checkheart

It’s a practice we’re all likely used to, whether it’s for a checkup or an illness-specific appointment. Your provider pulls out his or her stethoscope as he or she listens to different areas of your chest, you may also be asked to take several deep breaths. Have you ever wondered exactly what your provider is listening for?

The sounds our hearts make can warn of several different issues. Typically, your heart should be sounding out a regular, steady rhythm with a strong beat of about 60 to 100 times per minute. A heart sound is produced by the closing of your heart valve, a sound that is described as a “lub” noise as the valves between the atria and ventricles close and a “dub” noise as valves between the ventricles and large blood vessels close. If your provider hears a rapid or irregular heartbeat, a heart murmur or additional heart sounds, further testing could be needed to rule out the following potential issues.

Heart murmur
A heart murmur is essentially a noise, not a specific disease. Murmurs are generated by the turbulent flow of blood inside or outside the heart. Heart murmurs can be innocent or abnormal. An innocent heart murmur is one that is not indicative of any underlying health problems, and may disappear over time.

Abnormal heart murmurs are often caused by valve or blood flow abnormalities. Your provider will determine whether a murmur is innocent or abnormal and a sign of a health issue by listening to your heartbeat and assessing how long the murmur lasts, when it happens, what activities prompt it, and where it is the loudest. Continue Reading »

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