Most systolic heart murmurs do not signify cardiac disease, and many are related to physiologic increases in blood flow velocity. Diastolic murmurs virtually always represent pathologic conditions and require further cardiac evaluation, as do most continuous murmurs.
A history of rheumatic fever, intravenous drug abuse, embolization in different organs, genetic diseases such as Marfan syndrome, heart surgery in childhood, or heart murmur should alert the examiner to the possibility of valvular heart disease. Exercise tolerance is frequently decreased; patients may exhibit signs and symptoms of heart failure, including dyspnea, orthopnea, fatigue, pulmonary rales, jugular venous congestion, hepatic congestion, and dependent edema. Angina may occur in patients with a hypertrophied left ventricle, and atrial fibrillation frequently accompanies enlargement of the atria.
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