Heart Murmur in Children

What is a Heart Murmur in Children?

A heart murmur is an extra or unusual sound when listening to a heartbeat and more common in children than adults. Most of the time, heart murmurs are not serious. Murmurs sometimes are described as a blowing, whooshing, or humming sound when a health-care provider uses a stethoscope to listen to the heart.

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When are Heart Murmurs Usually Detected in Children?

The most common age for a child to develop a heart murmur is between ages 2 and 6. Some children are born with a heart murmur or develop one during infancy.

What Causes a Heart Murmur?

  • Increased blood flow across the heart valve
  • Turbulence caused by structural heart defects
  • Infections

A murmur is created when the heart valves do not close properly, allowing blood to leak back into the heart.

What Types of Conditions are Related to Heart Murmurs?

Heart murmurs in children may be caused by different underlying conditions including: 

  • Congenital heart defects such as heart structure problems such as holes between chambers and extra valves
  • Infections such as rheumatic fever or endocarditis
  • Certain medications
  • Obstruction in the heart such as valvular stenosis or narrow pulmonary artery

What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Murmur?

The signs and symptoms of a heart murmur may vary, depending on the type of murmur and its severity. Common symptoms include:  

  • Feeling of fluttering in the chest
  •  Dizziness or lightheadedness 
  • Palpitations
  • Irregular heartbeat or rapid heartbeat
  •  Shortness of breath 
  • Fatigue 
  • Chest pain or discomfort 
  • Swelling in the ankles, feet, or abdomen

What are the Risk Factors for a Heart Murmur in a Child? 

The most common risk factors for a heart murmur in children are:  

  • Congenital heart defects
  • Infection or fever 
  • Anemia
  • Thyroid
  • Prematurity
  •  Family history 
  • Stress or anxiety

A young Hispanic family smilingWhat is the Treatment for a Heart Murmur?

The treatment for a heart murmur depends on its severity and presence of underlying medical conditions. If a child has a murmur, their pediatrician may order additional tests, such as an echocardiogram, to assess the cause of the murmur.

In some cases, no treatment is necessary or medication may be prescribed to control symptoms. However, if serious symptoms are present and causing other complications, surgery may be needed to repair or replace the heart valves causing the murmurs.

CHRISTUS Children's - The Heart Center

CHRISTUS Children's specializes in pediatric care for infants, children and adolescents as well as maternal and fetal care for women with high-risk and routine pregnancies. From birth to age 18, CHRISTUS Children’s provides comprehensive, coordinated care from a team of pediatric and maternal experts.

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