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Cardiologists Failing to Identify Basic, Advanced Murmurs

Additional training improved detection of heart murmurs and accompanying conditions

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 2, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Cardiologists don't always identify heart valve issues through auscultation, but additional training improves their abilities, according to a study presented at the annual European Society of Cardiology Congress, held from Aug. 29 to Sept. 2 in London.

The study included 1,098 cardiologists who had their skills assessed at American College of Cardiology meetings from 2011 to 2014. They were asked to diagnose basic murmurs, advanced murmurs, or both after listening to recordings of heart murmurs. The doctors failed to identify half of basic and one-third of advanced murmurs, the researchers found.

The cardiologists then did extra training for both basic and advanced murmurs (90 minutes each). They improved from 48 to 88 percent in identifying basic murmurs and from 66 to 93 percent in identifying advanced murmurs.

"These findings confirm the widely held view that auscultation skills among cardiologists have eroded over time," according to study coauthor Patrick O'Gara, M.D., past-president of the American College of Cardiology. "As shown in this and other studies, however, these skills can improve with repetition and training," he said in a college news release.

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