What tests help detect an abnormal heart murmur?

Evidence of an abnormal heart murmur can be detected with several tests, and the results help confirm the presence or absence of heart disease. Tests include:

•An electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) is a quick, painless test based on monitoring stickers placed on the outside of the body to measure the heart’s electrical activity and record any disturbances in heart rhythm. Abnormalities in the normal electrical activity of the heart, thickening of the heart or enlargement of the heart chambers may be detected.

•Chest x-rays produce an image of the inside of the chest showing the bones, heart and blood vessels. Chest x-rays usually show the chest in two views: from the front and from the side. From an x-ray, doctors can assess the size of the heart and its chambers, and blood flow to the lungs.
•An echocardiogram uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart. The images can help doctors evaluate the heart’s structures, including the muscles and valves. Doctors may be able to see a hole in the wall that divides the left and right sides of the heart; identify a deformity of a heart valve; get a sense of the heart’s pumping power; watch the blood flow; and/or detect pressure differences in the chambers.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.