This article is reviewed, corrected, and approved by: Dr. Benjamin McLean M.D. | FCPS | FRCP | MPH
Heart murmurs can be quite common, especially in newborns. They are unusual sounds heard during the heartbeat. It is often detected with the help of a stethoscope, but sometimes, it can be heard without it.
The murmurs are identified by uncommon or peculiar sounds that occur while listening to the heart. While innocent murmurs are typically harmless and tend to resolve on their own, pathologic murmurs may indicate an underlying heart condition that requires further evaluation and treatment.
Understanding the different types of murmurs, their causes, and appropriate diagnostic and treatment approaches is essential to ensure the well-being of babies and children.
What is Heart Murmur?
In general, heart murmurs are extra sounds heard during heartbeats. It is characterized by an additional or unusual noise that is detected when listening to the heart using a stethoscope. Heart murmur in newborns is often common.
The sound can be loud or even soft sound, and its pitch may vary. In babies, it usually happens because of the way blood moves through the heart and blood vessels. Although most heart murmurs in babies are harmless, some may indicate underlying heart conditions that need medical attention.
Types of Heart Murmur in Babies
Classification can be broadly categorized into two types.
Innocent (also known as benign or functional) murmurs
Innocent murmurs are commonly found in children and infants and are considered harmless. They occur when blood flows through a normal and healthy heart, but the flow becomes temporarily disrupted or turbulent.
Innocent murmurs tend to be gentle and brief, and they do not come with any symptoms or indications of heart issues. As the child grows older and their heart develops further, these murmurs often disappear.
Pathologic murmurs, on the other hand, indicate an underlying heart condition that requires further evaluation and treatment. Heart valves and chambers can be damaged as a result of structural abnormalities.
Pathologic murmurs can be louder, longer in duration, and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as difficulty breathing, poor feeding, body weight imbalance or obesity, and cyanosis (a bluish tint to the skin).
Causes of Heart Murmur in Kids
If you or your baby have been diagnosed with a heart murmur, it's natural to want to know the underlying causes. There are various factors that can lead to a heart murmur in babies.
Here are some common causes of heart murmur in babies-
Innocent heart murmurs
- Normal blood flow through a healthy heart
- Turbulent blood flow due to the developing cardiovascular system
An abnormal heart structure
- Defects in heart valves (e.g., mitral valve prolapse, aortic stenosis)
- Holes in the heart (such as ventricular septal defect or atrial septal defect)
- Abnormalities in heart chambers (e.g., hypertrophic cardiomyopathy)
Congenital heart defects
- CHD (congenital heart murmur)
- Inflammation of the heart valves (endocarditis)
- Rheumatic fever
- High blood pressure or Hypertension
- Anemia or other blood disorders affecting the heart's function
- Hyperthyroidism or other hormonal imbalances
Diagnosis of Hearth Murmur in Babies
Heart murmurs are relatively common in newborns, as we discussed earlier. Proper diagnosis and understanding of heart murmurs in babies are vital for ensuring the well-being of the child. Medical professionals, including pediatricians and pediatric cardiologists, may take several physical examinations.
They can also check previous medical records and perform additional tests such as echocardiography (ultrasound of the heart) to assess the nature and severity of the heart murmur. This helps differentiate between innocent murmurs and those caused by underlying heart conditions.
Treatment for Heart Murmurs for Kids
Essentials to remember
- No specific treatment is required.
- Regular check-ups and monitoring by a pediatrician to ensure the murmur resolves on its own as the baby grows older
- Prescribed to manage symptoms or underlying conditions (e.g., diuretics for fluid retention, antibiotics for infections)
- Repair or correction of structural abnormalities (e.g., heart valve repair or replacement, closure of septal defects)
- Minimally invasive techniques to treat certain heart defects (e.g., balloon valvuloplasty)
- Adjustments in feeding techniques (e.g., smaller, more frequent meals for babies with poor feeding)
- Promoting a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a balanced diet
- Regular visits to a pediatric cardiologist for monitoring and adjustments in treatment as needed
- It is essential for babies with pathologic heart murmurs to receive appropriate treatment and follow-up care under the guidance of healthcare professionals, such as pediatricians and pediatric cardiologists.
All Myths and Misconceptions About Infant Heart Murmurs
Heart murmur in babies are abnormal sounds heard during a heartbeat, resulting from turbulent blood flow. While innocent murmurs are harmless and often resolve on their own, pathologic murmurs may indicate an underlying heart condition.
Seeking medical evaluation and understanding the specific type of heart murmur in a baby is crucial for appropriate management and ensuring the child's health and well-being.
It is crucial for babies with pathologic murmurs to be evaluated by a pediatrician or a pediatric cardiologist to determine the specific underlying condition and appropriate management.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Qs)
Q: Can you die from a heart murmur?
Ans: A heart murmur is not typically life-threatening and does not directly cause death. It is an abnormal sound heard during the heartbeat due to turbulent blood flow in the heart or blood vessels.
Q: What is icd 10 code for heart murmur?
Ans: The ICD-10 code for heart murmur depends on the specific underlying condition causing the murmur. Heart murmurs can be a symptom of various cardiovascular disorders, and the ICD-10 codes would correspond to those specific conditions.
Q: How long can you live with a heart murmur?
Ans: Life expectancy with a heart murmur depends on the cause and overall health. Harmless murmurs generally don't affect it, but serious conditions can impact prognosis and management.
Q: What is pathologic murmurs?
Ans: Abnormal heart murmurs caused by structural abnormalities or heart diseases are known as pathologic murmurs.
Q: What does a heart murmur sound like?
Ans: A heart murmur is a weird sound heard during the heartbeat. It can be described as a phiss, whooshing, swishing, lub dub sound of heart or a blowing sound between normal heart sounds.