About heart murmur in children
Blood flowing through the heart usually makes a lub-dub noise. A heart murmur is when the blood makes an extra noise in the heart – a whoosh, swish or hum. It happens when the blood isn’t flowing smoothly through the heart.
Some heart murmurs are innocent heart murmurs. This means there’s nothing wrong with your child’s heart, and the murmur usually goes away with time.
Innocent heart murmurs are most common kind of heart murmurs in children and teenagers. It’s thought that at least half of all children have them. They sometimes happen because of fever or infection, and they usually disappear when your child is well again.
Abnormal heart murmurs are more serious. They’re often caused by congenital heart disease. These murmurs can be either present from birth or happen later in life.
Symptoms of heart murmur in children
If your child has an innocent heart murmur, they’ll have no symptoms at all.
If your child has an abnormal heart murmur, they might have symptoms related to heart disease. These might include breathlessness and blueness of the lips, fingers and toes. If the murmur is present from birth, these symptoms might appear immediately or soon after the birth.
You can’t hear a heart murmur without a doctor’s stethoscope.
Does your child need to see a doctor about heart murmur?
Any problems with your baby’s heart are likely to be picked up at birth, when the midwife or paediatrician checks your baby. If problems aren’t detected then, they’ll probably be picked up in checks during your baby’s first few weeks.
Sometimes heart murmurs are picked up during general check-ups or check-ups for other issues like infections.
Go to a hospital emergency department or call 000 for an ambulance straight away if your child is having trouble breathing, suddenly becomes pale or blue, or you’re concerned your child is very unwell.
Tests for heart murmur
If your doctor has any concerns about your child’s heart murmur, the doctor might order an ECG and a chest X-ray.
The doctor might also refer your child to a cardiologist, who might do an echocardiogram.
Heart murmur treatment
An innocent heart murmur doesn’t need any treatment, because there’s nothing wrong with your child’s heart. It’ll most likely disappear with time as your child grows.
If your child has heart disease, they might need some form of treatment. This can range from medication to surgery, depending on what kind of disease it is and how bad it is. Some children just need regular check-ups with their cardiologist.