0 votes
in Health by (440 points)

My doctor detected a heart murmur (leaky heart valve, hole in my heart) yesterday. I have an echocardiogram on tuesday to figure out exactly how big the gap is.

I've learned that I was probably born with the condition. I just wonder why it was never detected before.

I've complained to my doctor about chest pains, fatigue, and shortness of breath for a couple of years, but I recently took a two week trip to the mountains. During this trip, I had an especially hard time breathing. I've learned that severe stress on the cardiovascular system can cause the hole to "grow".

Could this trip have been what caused the hole to become apparent?

Since I've been back to my home at a much lower altitude, I've noticed my symptoms become more severe. I wake up about two nights a week feeling pain radiating from my chest and up into my back and shoulder, feeling as though my heart is going to come out of my chest. I have a hard time maintaining smooth speech on the phone and feel dizzy when standing up.

My doctor has attributed these symptoms to "panic attacks" which I thought sounded reasonable because someone close to me was recently murdered and it seemed that panic attacks would become more intense after this trauma. I'm now thinking otherwise.

Do I fit the description of someone with considerably intense heart valve dysfunction?

(I have also gained a considerable amount of weight over the past couple of months)

4 Answers

0 votes
by (17.0m points)
Best answer

Heart murmurs are most often caused by defective heart valves. A stenotic (sten-OT'ik) heart valve has a smaller-than-normal opening and can't open completely. A valve may also be unable to close completely. This leads to regurgitation, which is blood leaking backward through the valve when it should be closed.

Murmurs also can be caused by conditions such as pregnancy, fever, thyrotoxicosis (thi"ro-toks"ih-KO'sis) (a diseased condition resulting from an overactive thyroid gland) or anemia.

A diastolic (di"as-TOL'ik) murmur occurs when the heart muscle relaxes between beats. A systolic (sis-TOL'ik) murmur occurs when the heart muscle contracts. Systolic murmurs are graded by intensity (loudness) from one to six. A grade 1/6 is very faint, heard only with a special effort. A grade 6/6 is extremely loud. It's heard with a stethoscope slightly removed from the chest.

0 votes

If your doctor hears a heart murmur, there is something not right that requires further investigation.

I had my mitral valve repaired last week in New York City. I too was short of breath, had chest pain and palpitations and gained a lot of weight due to water retention. Get that echocardiogram done! My case was diagnosed 5 years ago. I too was probably born with it and it deteriorated over time. I was stupid and didn't see my cardiologist for a year and was totally shocked when she told me I would need surgery within the next 6 weeks! I went to the top valve surgeon in NYC at NY University Medical Center. I don't know where you are, but my surgeon's name is Dr. Aubrey Galloway. The surgery was done minimally invasively - I have a 2 1/2" incision on my right breast (I'm a 53 year old female - the incision can be done under the breast if it's not too big - don't know if you're male or female) and they accessed the heart laparoscopically through my ribs. I was in the hospital for 5 days and came home last Sunday. I'm in discomfort rather than pain (extra-strength Tylenol helps) and tire easily, but each day gets better. I expect my convalescence to last another 3-4 weeks. My heart is normal now, according to Dr. Galloway - no palpitations or shortness of breath and the water is quickly leaving. The degree of deterioration of the valve determined whether it was repaired or replaced, with repair being the preferred surgery.

You must be very anxious about what awaits you - that's only normal. It's scary and I feel for you. We can be thankful that the medical technology exists to repair our ailments and that we have access to that technology. Good luck and please let us know how it all turns out.


0 votes
by (31.9k points)

Yes Jessie I would say, just by reading everything you wrote, you do have a heart valve dysfunction. My mom had the same problem, and ended up having open heart surgery, with mechanical valves put in. She always struggled, and, had the exact same symptoms as you. Because she had a history of depression, her doctor was blaming everything on panic attacks to. Get a second opinion dear. And, best of luck to you. ♥

0 votes
by (2.0k points)

The weight will be water-weight you will be retaining water. This is common.

Open Heart Surgery is not that bad. I had a valve replaced 2 years ago and I am as good as new now. Your symptoms are common amongst heart patients as is the fact that it took ages to get taken seriously and get the proper cause of your troubles diagnosed. You will be amazed at how great you feel once you get yourself all fixed up.

try this website for great info on heart valve replacement


Good Luck to you.

Welcome to zQuestions Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers from other members of the community.