Do You Have a Heart Murmur?
Heart murmurs — that whooshing sound a doctor may hear through a stethoscope when he listens to your heartbeat — are normally nothing to worry about. But if a heart murmur is accompanied by such symptoms as rapid heartbeat, swelling or sudden weight gain, shortness of breath, a chronic cough, or heavy sweating, it could be the sign of a more serious underlying heart problem, like leaky or stiff heart valves that can force the heart to pump harder to satisfy your body’s oxygen needs. But sometimes it’s tricky telling the difference between something that’s harmless and a condition that requires treatment.
That’s where Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center’s new heart valve center comes in. Doctors do an extensive physical exam and can refer patients for further diagnostics, such as an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound that shows detailed images of the heart’s structure and function. The test can usually detect if heart valves are abnormal — they may be calcified or leaking — and can also spot most heart defects.
Armed with this information, patients can then make informed decisions regarding the best strategy. Treatments can range from medications to ease conditions that might worsen the heart murmur, including diuretics to remove excess fluid or ACE inhibitors to lower blood pressure, to surgery to mend a hole in the heart or fix or replace a valve.
“This is primarily a diagnostic program to identify patients at risk for significant heart problems due to abnormalities in their valves,” says Dr. Eisenberg, who had a heart murmur himself as a child. “This is specifically targeted to patients who are confused about their treatment options and want more advice.”
Join us for a free community lecture on Tuesday, March 4, from 6-7:30 p.m. at Providence Saint Joseph to learn more about the importance of an accurate diagnosis and new treatment options. The featured speakers include: Robert Gottner, MD, Chairman, Cardiac Surgery and Valve Center Co-Director; Prahbdeep Sandhu, MD, Clinical Cardiology Section and Valve Center Co-Director; and Daniel Eisenberg, MD, Medical Director, Cardiac Services. Please call 1-888-HEALING (1-888-432-5464) to make a reservation. Free parking and light refreshments will be provided. Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center is located at 501 S. Buena Vista St. in Burbank.