Volume 10, Issue 12: Heart SoundsAuthor: Samantha Sweet
HEART SOUNDS – LISTEN TO THIS!
It is a dreary Thursday night shift and you were hoping for a break but instead a call comes through and you are dispatched to a 77-year-old female who feels short of breath. After assessment you make a working diagnosis of heart failure but now what do you do?
Heart sounds are caused by the closure of the valves, which are located between the atria and ventricles (atrioventricular valves) or the ventricles and the vessel leaving the heart (semilunar valves).
There are many mechanisms that can result in the valves not working as well as they should. Some are congenital and some are associated with the aging heart.
This article describes the anatomy of the heart in relation to heart sounds and related heart conditions. There is guidance on how to make an advanced clinical assessment including cardiac auscultation sites and the sounds you might expect to hear. It also describes how to recognise heart murmurs, measure jugular venous pressure and take into account adequate history in order to get the most appropriate care for the patient.