Are Heart Murmurs And Headaches Related?

Published: May 14, 2012
Dear TeenHealthFX,
I was diagnosed with a grade 2 heart murmur. I have gotten really bad headaches with nausea and dizziness and even blurry vision sometimes. They happen can up to 10 times a week. I'm going to the doctor in February for my sports physical and will ask there, but is there any way heart murmurs and headaches can be related?
Signed: Are Heart Murmurs And Headaches Related?

Dear Are Heart Murmurs And Headaches Related?,

 

A normal heartbeat makes two sounds like “lub-dub.” These are the sounds of your heart valves closing. When a person has a heart murmur, there is an abnormal sound when the heart beats. There can be a “whooshing” or “swishing” sound, and these types of sounds are made by turbulent blood in or near your heart. Heart murmurs can be present at birth or can develop later in life.

 

Most heart murmurs – especially in infants and children – are harmless. These are called “innocent” or functional murmurs, and a person with this kind of murmur has a normal heart. There are generally no signs or symptoms with innocent murmurs, and treatment is usually not required.

 

While a heart murmur in and of itself is not a disease, it may indicate that there is an underlying problem with the heart. Characteristics of pathological murmurs often include a sound level of grade 3 or higher, a diastolic murmur, or an increase in intensity when the person is standing.

 

Given that you murmur has been classified as a grade 2 murmur, it is unlikely that you have an abnormal heart or any serious heart conditions that would require treatment. Headaches and blurred vision are not common symptoms associated with grade 2 murmurs. And while dizziness can be a symptom that a more serious heart condition is present, most likely it is connected to whatever is causing the headaches and blurred vision. FX is glad to hear that you are going to see your doctor, but would like you to call your doctor, describe your symptoms and see if he/she would like you to come in earlier than February. Especially if your blurred vision has sudden onsets, it is important to seek medical attention right away. Your doctor can do any necessary tests or examinations to determine whether your murmur is anything to be concerned about. He/she can also look into what is causing these other symptoms. Your headaches, dizziness and blurred vision could be symptoms of low blood pressure, nearsightedness, migraines, the flu, allergies, stress, or various other conditions – it is important for your doctor to determine what is the cause so you can take the appropriate preventative measures and get the proper treatment.  

 

 

More information on heart murmurs:

 

Symptoms:

 

Frequently an abnormal heart murmur also has no noticeable symptoms. However, when the following signs or symptoms are present, they may indicate an underlying heart problem:

 

  • Skin that appears blue, especially on your fingertips and lips.
  • Swelling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged neck veins
  • Poor appetite and failure to grow normally (in infants)
  • Weight gain
  • Heavy sweating with minimal or no exertion
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

 

You should see your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms above, and call your doctor right away if you experience

  • Chest pain
  • Unexplained breathlessness, fatigue, or fainting
  • Heart palpitations

 

 

Assessing whether a murmur is innocent or abnormal:

A doctor will assess several things in determining whether the murmur is innocent or abnormal, such as:

 

  • How loud is the heartbeat? Murmurs are classified or “graded” depending on their ability to be heard by the examiner. The grading is on a scale of 1-6, with grade 1 as a murmur that can barely be heard and grade 6 as the loudest.
  • Where in your heart is it? Can it be heard in your neck, back, or anywhere else in the chest?
  • What pitch is it – high, medium, or low?
  • What affects the sound? Does changing your body position or exercising affect the sound?
  • When does it occur and for how long? Systolic murmurs occur when your heart is squeezing blood out. Diastolic murmurs are heard when your heart is filling with blood. Continuous murmurs occur during the entire heartbeat. Both diastolic and continuous murmurs often indicate a heart defect or disease that needs more evaluation.
  • Is there a family history of heart murmurs or heart disease?
  • Are there signs and symptoms present of a heart problem?
Signed: TeenHealthFX

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