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Updated 18 February 2013

A warning in your heartbeat

Did you know that it's possible to identify heart defects and problems by listening to a heartbeat? Here are eleven common sounds.

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A routine doctor’s visit usually involves the doctor listening to your heart with his stethoscope. Have you ever wondered what a heart problem would sound like?

Listen to the following 11 heart sound clips, provided by South African medical device company Diacoustic Medical Devices, to learn more (use earphones for best effect): 

Normal heartbeat

Normal heart sound - no murmur.

Aortic valve stenosis

Aortic valve stenosis is a type of valvular heart disease characterised by an abnormal narrowing of the aortic valve opening.

Atrial septal defect (ASD)

Atrial septal defect is a form of congenital heart defect that enables blood flow between the left and right atria via the interatrial septum. The interatrial septum is the tissue that divides the right and left atria. Without this septum, or if there is a defect in this septum, it is possible for blood to travel from the left side of the heart to the right side of the heart, or vice versa. This results in the mixing of arterial and venous blood, which may or may not be clinically significant. This mixture of blood may or may not result in what is known as a "shunt". The amount of shunting present, if any, dictates hemodynamic significance (see Pathophysiology below). A "right-to-left-shunt" typically poses the more dangerous scenario.

Atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD)

Atrioventricular septal defect or atrioventricular canal defect (AVCD), previously known as "common atrioventricular canal" (CAVC) or "endocardial cushion defect", is characterised by a deficiency of the atrioventricular septum of the heart. It is caused by an abnormal or inadequate fusion of the superior and inferior endocardial cushions with the mid portion of the atrial septum and the muscular portion of the ventricular septum.

Functional murmur

A functional murmur (innocent murmur, physiologic murmur) is a heart murmur that is primarily due to physiologic conditions outside the heart, as opposed to structural defects in the heart itself.

Mitral regurgitation (MR)

Mitral regurgitation, mitral insufficiency or mitral incompetence is a disorder of the heart in which the mitral valve does not close properly when the heart pumps out blood. It is the abnormal leaking of blood from the left ventricle, through the mitral valve, and into the left atrium, when the left ventricle contracts, i.e. there is regurgitation of blood back into the left atrium. MR is the most common form of valvular heart disease.

Mitral valve prolapse (MVP)

Mitral valve prolapse is a valvular heart disease characterised by the displacement of an abnormally thickened mitral valve leaflet into the left atrium during systole. There are various types of MVP, broadly classified as classic and nonclassic. In its nonclassic form, MVP carries a low risk of complications. In severe cases of classic MVP, complications include mitral regurgitation, infective endocarditis, congenital heart failure, and - in rare circumstances - cardiac arrest, usually resulting in sudden death.

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)

Patent ductus arteriosus is a congenital disorder in the heart wherein a neonate's ductus arteriosus fails to close after birth. Early symptoms are uncommon, but in the first year of life include increased work of breathing and poor weight gain. With age, the PDA may lead to congestive heart failure if left uncorrected.

Pulmonary valve stenosis (PVS)

Pulmonary valve stenosis is a valvular heart disease in which outflow of blood from the right ventricle of the heart is obstructed at the level of the pulmonic valve. This results in the reduction of flow of blood to the lungs. Valvular pulmonic stenosis accounts for 80% of right ventricular outflow tract obstruction. While the most common cause of pulmonary valve stenosis is congenital heart disease, it may also be due to rheumatic heart disease or a malignant carcinoid tumor. Both stenosis of the pulmonary artery and pulmonary valve stenosis are causes of pulmonic stenosis.

Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF)

Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) is a congenital heart defect which is classically understood to involve four anatomical abnormalities (although only three of them are always present). It is the most common cyanotic heart defect, and the most common cause of blue baby syndrome.

Tricuspid insufficiency (TI)

Tricuspid insufficiency, a valvular heart disease also called tricuspid regurgitation (TR), refers to the failure of the heart's tricuspid valve to close properly during systole. As a result, with each heartbeat some blood passes from the right ventricle to the right atrium, the opposite of the normal direction. Tricuspid regurgitation occurs in roughly less than 1% of people and is usually asymptomatic.

Ventricular septal defect (VSD)

A ventricular septal defect  is a defect in the ventricular septum, the wall dividing the left and right ventricles of the heart.
The ventricular septum consists of an inferior muscular and superior membranous portion and is extensively innervated with conducting cardiomyocytes.

*The heart murmur sound clips have been provided by Diacoustic Medical Devices (DMD), a Stellenbosch-based medical device company focusing on the development of computer-aided auscultation devices and algorithms. Visit http://sensicardiac.com to learn more.
 

 
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