Your family doctor or internist may be the first to suspect that you have a heart valve condition. He or she may detect a heart murmur while listening to your heartbeat through a stethoscope. A heart murmur is an extra or unusual sound heard when the heart beats. A murmur can be faint or it can create a noticeable whooshing noise. Heart murmurs are common - and most do not indicate a problem.
Your doctor will perform a physical examination and order tests to determine if you have heart valve disease. If initial tests indicate a valve problem, other tests may be recommended to gather more details about your condition.
If your heart murmur is associated with symptoms of heart valve disease, such as tiredness and shortness of breath, then your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist, a medical doctor who specializes in heart disease and treatment.
What to Expect During Your Exam
During the physical exam, the cardiologist will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and your family's health history. He or she will listen to your heart and lungs and examine your feet and legs for swelling caused by excess fluid retention. In addition, the cardiologist will review your blood pressure and the rate at which your heart beats (your pulse).
Take the time to carefully describe how you’ve been feeling and any symptoms you are having and to ask questions. Click here for Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Heart Valve Disease. The information you provide during this discussion with your doctor is an important part of diagnosing your condition and getting the help you need.