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Heart Murmur [All Types, Child]

A heart murmur is a swishing sound that blood makes as it moves through the heart. Most children have a heart murmur at some time in their life. These murmurs come and go during childhood and do not affect the child’s health. As your child gets older they go away on their own. These are called "innocent" or "functional" murmurs.

Sometimes a heart murmur is a sign of a problem in the heart. If your child's doctor suspects this, your child will be referred to a heart specialist (cardiologist). Special tests will be ordered. These include an EKG (tracing of the electric pattern of the heart), a chest x-ray and an echo-cardiogram (“echo”). (An echo is like an ultrasound of the heart.)

Heart murmur can also be caused by a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD). Babies born with CHD may have symptoms at birth (Return Promptly section). Others may develop symptoms later in childhood or teen years. Others may never develop any symptoms at all.

There are two common types of Congenital Heart Defects:

  • A hole in the center wall of the heart that divides the chambers

  • A narrowed or leaky heart valve

A hole in the center wall of the heart may close on its own as the child grows older, or it may be so small that it does not cause any problem. Sometimes surgery is needed to repair a larger hole. A defect in the heart valve may require medication, treatment with a special catheter (no surgery) or an operation.

Home Care:

  1. Innocent heart murmurs require no special care or treatment.

  2. If medicine was prescribed, take exactly as directed.

  3. A teen with a congenital heart defect should avoid body piercings. Piercings increase the risk of bacteria getting into the body and infecting the heart.

Follow Up

with your child's doctor or as advised by our staff.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

In the newborns and infants:

  • Rapid breathing, blue lips

  • Difficulty feeding

  • Failure to gain weight normally

In the child and teenager:

  • Tiredness, difficulty exercising

  • Trouble gaining weight

  • Chest pains


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