A heart murmur is an extra or unusual sound that can be heard when your healthcare provider listens to your heart. The sound is a whooshing or swishing sound that is made as blood flows through the heart valves. A heart murmur does not necessarily mean that there is something wrong with the heart.
Murmurs may be normal and innocent, or they may be abnormal.
Innocent murmurs are common in young children. Innocent murmurs may come and go during childhood. Some innocent murmurs start in early infancy and last less than 6 months. Other innocent murmurs last until the teens. In all cases of innocent murmurs, the heart structure is normal. They may happen when the heart beats faster and changes the rate and amount of blood moving through the heart.
Some of the conditions that might cause your child's heart to beat faster are:
Abnormal murmurs are usually caused by heart defects or heart disease, such as:
Heart problems that cause heart murmurs may not cause any symptoms for many years. When they do cause symptoms, the symptoms may include:
A heart murmur is usually discovered when your healthcare provider listens to your child’s heart. Your healthcare provider can usually tell the difference between an innocent murmur and a murmur that may be caused by a medical problem.
Your provider will ask about your child's growth and may ask if your child is able to exercise as much as other children of the same age. Usually no tests are needed when an innocent murmur is diagnosed.
If your provider thinks the murmur may be a sign of a problem, your child may have other tests to look for the cause of the murmur, such as:
Innocent murmurs do not need treatment. Children with innocent murmurs can safely participate in sports and other activities. Your child may need medicine or surgery to treat other causes of heart murmurs.
Follow your healthcare provider's instructions. Ask your provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
Little is known about how to prevent the birth defects that cause heart murmurs. However, a healthy lifestyle may prevent or lessen heart problems later in life.