All Types of Heart Murmur (Child)

A heart murmur is an extra sound that blood makes as it moves through structures in the heart. A heart murmur may mean there is an abnormality of the heart or 1 of the structures in the heart. In most cases, a murmur is completely harmless and a normal finding. In some cases, murmurs may mean there is a more serious problem. This will need further investigation and intervention. Most children will have a heart murmur at some time in their life. These murmurs come and go during childhood. They don’t affect the child’s health. As your child gets older, the murmurs may go away on their own. These are called innocent or functional murmurs. Some medical conditions, such as a viral infection, anemia, and dehydration, may lead to a murmur that goes away on its own and is due to an acute illness.

Sometimes a heart murmur is a sign of a problem in the heart. If your child's healthcare provider thinks this is the case, your child will be referred to a heart specialist (pediatric cardiologist). Your child will have special tests. These may include:

  • ECG. This looks at the electric pattern of the heart.

  • Pulse oximetry. This shows how much oxygen is in your child’s blood.

  • Chest X-ray. This gives an image of the heart and lungs.

  • Echocardiogram. This test is like an ultrasound of the heart.

  • Cardiovascular MRI. This uses powerful magnets, radio waves, and a computer to make detailed pictures of the inside of the body. This is becoming more popular because it produces better pictures than other methods.

A heart murmur may be caused by a congenital heart defect (CHD). Babies born with CHD may have symptoms at birth. Others may have symptoms later in childhood or as teens. Others may never have any symptoms at all.

These are 2 common types of CHD that may cause a murmur to be heard:

  • A hole in the wall of the heart that divides either the 2 bottom chambers of the heart or the 2 top chambers

  • A narrowed or leaky heart valve between the different chambers of the heart

A hole in the wall of the heart that divides the 2 bottom or top chambers of the heart may close on its own as the child grows older. Or it may be so small that it doesn’t cause any problem. Sometimes your child may need surgery to fix a larger hole. A defect in 1 of the heart valves may need medicine, treatment with a special catheter, or surgery.

Home care

Follow these guidelines when caring for your child at home:

  • Innocent heart murmurs don’t need any special care or treatment.

  • If medicine was prescribed, have your child take it exactly as directed.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to get medical advice

Call your child’s healthcare provider right away if any of these occur in a newborn or baby:

  • Trouble feeding

  • Doesn’t gain weight normally

Call your child’s healthcare provider right away if any of these occur in a child or teen:

  • Tiredness or trouble exercising

  • Trouble gaining weight

  • Leg swelling

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur in a newborn or baby:

  • Fast or irregular breathing

  • Blue lips

  • Lasting or abnormal blue legs or feet

  • Passing out or unresponsiveness

Call 911 if any of these occur in a child or teen:

  • Chest pain

  • Trouble breathing

  • Fast heartbeat  

  • Passing out or unresponsiveness

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