The Saga of a Murmur !

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When you think about a doctor, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind. White coat? Hospital? Stethoscope? Well, definitely many are fascinated with the Stethoscope, which can help one listen to the sounds of the heart. How cool! Isn’t it ? Well, Medical students are most excited to use this beautiful piece and get to the secrets of heart.

Heart though is boring. For most healthy  people, the only sound it makes is lub-dub. And keeps on repeating. If it gets excited, it repeats this faster. If it gets sad, it slows down this motion. Ah, but hearing this sound through the coveted stethoscope is just exciting for the newbies in medicine.

Now, if the heart gets really disturbed like if the valves got damaged or there was a hole in the heart, the sounds change and it starts making a click sound or a turbulent sound …these variations in our terminology are called Murmur. Cardiology is one of the most prized branches of medicine and every other student probably harbored a secret dream of conquering this field. Our medical colleges used to have such patients now and then and whenever such a patient would get admitted, the whole batch would go gaga over those sounds. Placing the stethoscope over the chest, and listening to it again and again ..not just 1 student but the entire group of students. I still remember those scenes from the wards with the patients sitting on the center of bed, surrounded by the mob of the students. The funniest part would be that the patients would nicely oblige when we were accompanied by a senior doctor. However, when examining alone, some of them would not even budge. Can’t blame them though! They were in hospital to get themselves treated, to rest for a while till they could work again and not to oblige the hordes of medical students for whom this was just a case.

If you got an exam case where the patient had a murmur, it would be a cake walk. Not because of your diagnostic skills ! What do you expect from a graduate anyway? But because the patient would usually tell, to listen to his heart. Some of these patients would be chronic patients and would be called repeatedly to be exam case. They would at times even know the questions which would be asked.

While heart usually takes all the credit, the lungs are the ones who are better at making sounds. One could hear a variety of rales, rhonchi, crackles or an entire absence of lung sounds in the different ailments of lung. Most of us would really find it difficult then to distinguish one from the other. Yet, somehow troubling those kind hearted patients who would flock to medical college, most of us did manage to learn the basics and pass the exam.

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