Children and Heart Murmurs
In many cases, heart murmurs in children are harmless. However, if other symptoms are also present, the murmur may be a sign of heart problems. The treatment for heart problems that cause abnormal murmurs varies depending on the specific disease or condition.
The normal sounds heard during a heartbeat -- "lub-DUPP" or "lub-DUB" -- are the sounds of valves closing as blood moves through the heart. A heart murmur is an extra or unusual sound heard during the heartbeat. Murmurs can be very faint or very loud, and sometimes sound like a whooshing or swishing noise.
A heart murmur is not a disease; it is a sound that the doctor hears with the stethoscope. It can be normal in some children, or it could be a sign that something may be wrong. While most heart murmurs are harmless, some are a sign of a heart problem -- especially if other signs or symptoms of a heart problem are present.
Heart murmurs can be innocent (harmless) or abnormal (meaning there are other signs or symptoms of a heart problem).
- Innocent (harmless) murmurs. A child with an innocent murmur has a normal heart and usually has no other symptoms or signs of a heart problem. Innocent murmurs are common in healthy children.
- Abnormal murmurs. A child with an abnormal murmur usually has other signs or symptoms of a heart problem. Most abnormal murmurs in children are due to congenital heart disease (heart defects that are present at birth).
Most children with a murmur do not have any other heart murmur symptoms. The murmur is usually harmless. However, if a child has an abnormal heart murmur, he or she may have symptoms that include:
- Blue coloring of the skin, especially on the fingertips and inside the mouth
- Poor eating and failure to grow normally (in infants)
- Fast breathing
- Excessive sweating
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath