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Heart murmurs in children

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Heart murmurs in children are relatively common and are often detected during routine medical check-ups. They can be a source of concern for parents, but it’s important to understand that not all heart murmurs indicate a serious heart problem. Here are some key points about heart murmurs in children:

  • Definition:
    • A heart murmur is an extra sound that can be heard during a heartbeat. It is typically described as a whooshing or swishing sound and is caused by turbulent blood flow within the heart or blood vessels.
    • Heart murmurs can be classified as either innocent (benign) or abnormal (pathologic).
  • Innocent Heart Murmurs:
    • Innocent heart murmurs are the most common type in children and are typically harmless.
    • They often occur when there is increased blood flow through the heart, which is common in growing children.
    • Innocent murmurs are usually soft, have a musical quality, and do not accompany other symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, or poor growth.
    • These murmurs tend to come and go and may be more noticeable during fever, anemia, or periods of rapid growth.
  • Abnormal Heart Murmurs:
    • Abnormal heart murmurs may indicate an underlying heart problem, such as a congenital heart defect (present at birth), acquired heart valve disorder, or other cardiac conditions.
    • They may be louder, harsher, or continuous, and they are often associated with other symptoms like fatigue, poor weight gain, or respiratory distress.
    • Abnormal murmurs can occur at any age and may require further evaluation and treatment by a pediatric cardiologist.
  • Causes:
    • Innocent murmurs are usually due to the normal flow of blood through the heart and blood vessels.
    • Abnormal murmurs can be caused by structural abnormalities in the heart, such as holes in the heart’s walls (septal defects), valve problems, or other heart conditions.
  • Diagnosis:
    • A healthcare provider will perform a physical examination and listen to the child’s heart using a stethoscope to detect a murmur.
    • If a murmur is detected, further evaluation may include an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) to assess the heart’s structure and function.
  • Treatment:
    • Innocent heart murmurs typically do not require treatment and often resolve as the child grows.
    • Abnormal heart murmurs are managed based on the underlying heart condition. Treatment may include medications, surgical procedures, or ongoing monitoring, depending on the diagnosis.
  • Prognosis:
    • The prognosis for children with innocent heart murmurs is excellent, as these murmurs are not associated with heart problems.
    • The prognosis for children with abnormal heart murmurs depends on the specific heart condition, the timing of diagnosis, and the effectiveness of treatment.

Parents should consult with a healthcare provider if they have concerns about their child’s heart murmur. Early diagnosis and appropriate management are essential for ensuring the child’s well-being and addressing any underlying heart conditions if present.

The content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical advice of a physician