Heart Murmurs From Running – A Complete Guide For Runners
Even though running is a great cardiovascular exercise, training at a high intensity too often can cause heart murmurs. Because of this many runners experience heart murmurs at least a few times during their careers. But what causes this? and is it dangerous?
In this article, we look at the causes of heart murmurs from running and other exercises. How you can prevent it, and whether or not it is dangerous. So, continue reading to learn more.
What Are Heart Murmurs?
The heart is one of the most vital organs in the human body. The heart is designed to keep blood flowing through a series of chambers and valves. These include two upper chambers (atria) and two lower chambers (ventricles). Blood is then circulated through these valves before leaving the chambers. This helps prevent blood from flowing backward into the heart.
When you start to hear a sound different from your typical heartbeat, it is often described as a heart murmur.
The sound relates to a turbulent circulation and a whooshing or rasping sound and is often heard with each heartbeat. Even though it is abnormal noise, most heart murmurs are benign and are quite common within children and young adults.
However, sometimes if you experience hear murmurs there can be an underlying condition and may indicate a more serious heart problem. But generally, heart murmurs can occur during normal heart function and is sometimes triggered by a change in circulation between the valves of the heart.
Some symptoms you may experience with heart murmurs are:
– Pain in the chest
– Dizziness and sometimes fainting
– Enlarged veins around the neck
– Breathing problems
– Enlarged liver
– Increased sweating after running
– Englarged veins, especially around the neck area
– Change of skin color around lips and fingers
If you experience more than one of these symptoms it may indicate a more serious issue with your heart and you should talk to your doctor.
Heart Murmurs During and After Running
Luckily heart murmurs during and after running is usually of the innocent type. It usually just means that the sound you hear is just the blood flowling strongly from your increased cardiovascular fitness.
You see, as your aerobic fitness gets stronger, your heart will start to adapt to the changes and become somewhat enlarged. This then allows the heart to be able to increase the amount of blood being pumped around the body during each contraction.
Can You Run With a Heart Murmur?
For many people, having a heart murmur might scare them away from running. But as you have read, it is not always the case and most people can continue to run when experiencing heart murmurs.
An innocent heart murmur won’t prevent you from running or exercising. However, it is always a good idea to get checked up by a professional to make sure you know the cause of the murmur. Once you have been cleared to train, you can continue to run as normal.
However, it is always wise to make sure your cardiovascular health is in check. Following some simple guidelines can help keep you safe and healthy, especially when you are training hard.
– Check there is no history of cardiovascular problems in your family
– Learn to analyse your heart rate when training and resting.
– Train by heart rate zones instead of speed or RPE
– Get a yearly electrocardiogram (ECG) or chest X-Ray
– Stick to a healthy Diet
– Continue with regular exercise
– Allow adequate recovery from training and stress
If you are running with a heart murmur, make sure you allow adequate recovery during each training cycle. This will prevent excess stress being placed on the heart and help provide adaption from the training you have done. Just like muscles, recovery is important for the heart, and stressing it too much will see a decline in performance.
How To Treat A Heart Murmur
There are different ways to treat a heart murmur, and the correct treatment will depend on the main cause. Benign heart murmurs usually don’t require any treatment. However, more dangerous ones may require medication and sometimes even surgery.
If you experience any of the symptoms below you should seek medical advice asap.
– Shortness of breath
– Swelling of lower legs
– Chest Pain
– Increased weight gain
– Chronic fatigue
Typically if you have some of the symptoms above paired with heart murmurs you will be treated with medication after finding the root cause. Some of the medications used are:
– Beta Blockers
– CE inhibitor
Most of these help to lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots from forming. However, in extreme cases when medication doesn’t work you may need surgery. They will then look to replace one of your heart valves or check for any holes in your heart.
Luckily most doctors will just perform a echocardiogram. An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of you heart. This is performed by using sound waves across your chest to provide a clear image of the heart as it beats. It also provides information about the size of the hearts chambers and how well the valves are working. It also gives a clear picture of how well the heart is pumping blood and how well the valves are opening and closing.