News Center

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The whispering fury: Heart murmurs explained at St. Francis seminar

INDIANAPOLIS – That low whispering inside some human hearts may speak volumes about a person’s health.

At an upcoming "Ask the Doc" program sponsored by the St. Francis Heart Center at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 11, cardiothoracic surgeon Marc Gerdisch, M.D., will explain the importance of understanding why heart valves may cause murmurs and when it’s time to seek treatment.

Heart murmurs are caused by valves inside the heart that don’t close properly. Sometimes, people can live with heart murmurs a long time without any symptoms. However, if the problem becomes more serious, the blood flow to the heart may be affected.

"A heart murmur isn't a disease, most are harmless and can either be innocent (harmless) or abnormal," said Gerdisch, a member of Cardiac Surgery Associates and director of cardiothoracic surgery at St. Francis Heart Center. "People who have abnormal murmurs – most related to congenital heart defects – may have other signs or symptoms of heart problems. In adults, abnormal murmurs are most often due to heart valve problems caused by infection, disease or aging."

People who have innocent heart murmurs have normal hearts. They usually have no other signs or symptoms of heart problems. Innocent murmurs are common in healthy children. Many, if not most, children will have heart murmurs heard by their doctors at some time in their lives.

Surgery, including heart valve repairs and valve replacement, can correct the condition and prevent heart failure.

The free, hour-long program will be at the Johnson County Public Library, 401 S. State St., Franklin. To register, call 317-782-4422, or register on-line by clicking on the Change of Heart classes link at

To learn more about the services and programs at the St. Francis Heart Center, go to