It can be scary to learn that you or your child has a heart murmur. However, heart murmurs are quite common and are often harmless.
They happen in many healthy children, who may or may not outgrow them as adults. They may also occur during pregnancy. Such murmurs are called “innocent” heart murmurs. They are not associated with medical or heart situation and do not require treatment or lifestyle changes.
Though many murmurs are innocent, some may indicate serious heart problems. For instance, heart murmurs may be caused by blood flowing through a heart valve made leaky or narrow by disease. Murmurs can also be caused by increased blood flow across a valve as a result of medical situations such as anemia or hyperthyroidism. Congenital heart defects (heart problems present at birth) can also cause heart murmurs. These sometimes can be repaired with surgery.
Heart murmurs can be heard through a stethoscope and often are detected during routine physical exams. On further examination, your doctor may find that the heart murmur is innocent. If your heart murmur is related to more serious heart problems, your doctor may refer you to a cardiologist (heart specialist).
Many people with heart murmurs experience no symptoms. However, some murmurs can happen in conjunction with these other symptoms:
- Rapid heartbeat (palpitations)
- Bluish skin color or fingertips (sometimes seen in babies with congenital heart defects)