Heart Murmur What to Know

A heart murmur is a sound in the heartbeat that is often detected during a routine office visit. The murmur is usually the result of an irregular flow of blood through the heart that rarely affects the overall health of the child. If your child has a heart murmur, he/she can be treated like a normal, healthy child. Unless otherwise directed by your child’s doctor, make sure your child gets plenty of exercise and eats right.

INNOCENT HEART MURMURS

At one time or another-after a fever, a bout of anxiousness or increase in physical activity — many children have a heart murmur. Most often, heart murmurs in children are not the result of structural abnormalities. They are often very faint and can’t be heard consistently. Innocent murmurs are harmless and usually disappear by adulthood.

COMMON UNDERLYING HEART DEFECTS

If the cause of the murmur is from a heart defect, it’s commonly either a septal or a valvular problem. Septal defects are small openings in the partition (the septum) that separates the left and right sides of the heart. These openings can allow blood to flow irregularly between the two sides. Many small septal defects will usually close on their own. Surgery may be necessary if the defects are large or infected or cause symptoms of heart failure.

Valvular defects refer to abnormalities of the valves that keep blood from flowing “backward” into the heart chambers. A defective valve might allow blood to back up in the wrong direction. This interrupts the normal blood flow. Like septal defects, they can be treated. Surgery may be recommended to replace the damaged valves.

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