When a doctor says that your older family member has a heart murmur, it can be concerning. Especially if you don’t know much about what that means. A heart murmur is an abnormal sound in the senior’s heartbeat. It is caused by the blood in the heart being turbulent. Understanding what a heart murmur is and what causes it may help put your mind at ease and allow you to take better care of your aging relative.
What Is a Heart Murmur?
Normally, the heart makes two sounds when it beats. It’s often described as “lubb-dupp” because those are the sounds the valves in the heart make when they close. A heart murmur adds a whooshing or swishing sound to the normal heartbeat. Sometimes people are born with a heart murmur, but they can also develop later, even into old age. They’re not usually a cause for concern, though sometimes they signal an underlying disease. A lot of the time, there’s no treatment needed. When treatment is needed, it is needed for the problem that is causing the murmur.
Heart murmurs that are harmless, or “innocent,” don’t typically have any symptoms. They are simply detected when the doctor listens to the senior’s heart with a stethoscope. If the murmur is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, it can mean there is a problem with the heart:
- Bluish skin, especially around fingertips and lips.
- Sudden weight gain.
- Feeling short of breath.
- A cough that doesn’t go away.
- Larger than normal liver.
- Large neck veins.
- Heavy sweating for no apparent reason.
- Pain in the chest.
- Dizziness or fainting.
What Causes a Heart Murmur?
The causes of a heart murmur depend on whether it is an innocent heart murmur or an abnormal one. Innocent murmurs happen because blood is flowing through the heart more quickly. This can be caused by:
- Physical activity.
Abnormal heart murmurs can be caused by problems with heart valves, such as calcification. This is when the valves get hard or thick, so they don’t work as well as they should. Infection of the lining of the heart or the valves, called endocarditis, is another cause of heart murmur in older adults.
If your aging relative has an underlying problem causing a heart murmur, home care can help them to manage it. Home care providers can remind them when they need to take a dose of medication. A home care provider can also make healthy meals, which can improve overall health and help with conditions like anemia. In addition, home care providers can encourage more physical activity in your aging relative, which helps to keep the heart healthy and strong.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE IS CONSIDERING HOMECARE IN YOUNGSVILLE, NC, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT SENIORS HELPING SENIORS TODAY. CALL (919) 761-5346.