If you've been diagnosed with a heart murmur, your doctor has likely advised you on whether your murmur is benign, or whether it's the sign of an underlying condition, and she has likely advised you on what types of activities are safe to engage in. If your heart murmur is benign, running should not affect you as long as you are respecting your body's limits. If your heart murmur is the result of an underlying condition, running may not be a safe activity; only your doctor can advise you on running with a heart murmur.
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A heart murmur, also known as arrhythmia, is an abnormal heart beat. Most murmurs are benign and common in adults and children. According to Dr. Kathleen Finta, a pediatric cardiologist at the Marshfield Clinic, 80 percent of children experience a benign murmur at some point in childhood. Heart murmurs may go away or develop later in life, and benign heart murmurs pose no threat to health. However, some heart murmurs may be the sign of an underlying heart condition, such as a hole in the heart, a leak in a heart valve or a narrow heart valve. Once your heart murmur is detected, your cardiologist can determine whether it is benign or the result of a more serious heart condition. The latter may require medical or surgical treatment.
Running is a vigorous activity that places significant demands on the cardiovascular system. The heart pumps blood at a faster rate to deliver fresh oxygen to the muscles. A healthy cardiovascular system is necessary for energy production and distribution, and those with with a deconditioned cardiovascular system or a heart condition will find running to be very challenging. In some cases, running is not advised for people with these conditions.
Running With a Murmur
In the majority of cases, running with a heart murmur poses no threat to health or safety. Benign murmurs do not affect the operation of the cardiovascular system or the functioning of the heart. Individuals diagnosed with benign heart murmurs can participate in their regular activities, such as running, with no cause for concern. If your heart murmur is the result of an underlying cardiac condition, your ability to participate in running will depend on the condition and its severity. Only your doctor can tell you whether it is safe to run with your heart murmur.
If you have a heart murmur but do not know whether or not it is safe for you to run, make an appointment with your doctor. If you were diagnosed with a heart murmur earlier in life and have not had a checkup, do so before you begin a running routine. Although it is unlikely, changes in your condition may have occurred with time.