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Heart Murmurs

Why does a heart murmur occur?

A heart murmur is a noise made by turbulent blood flowing through your heart. Most murmurs are ‘innocent’ or ‘functional’, meaning there is nothing wrong with your child’s heart.

They may disappear and reappear throughout childhood, may get louder or softer depending on your child’s heart rate. Many become harder to hear when your child grows older and some eventually disappear.

Sometimes murmurs are a sign of a heart problem e.g:

  • A hole in the heart
  • Abnormal blood vessels
  • A leaky heart valve
  • A narrow heart valve

At some point in their lives, about 30% of all children have a heart murmur.

How a murmur is usually picked up?

  • In the absence of other signs and symptoms it is usually detected during a visit to the doctor for a health-check up, immunisation or other problems. This murmur may turn out to be an innocent murmur or associated with a heart problem.
  • If there is a heart defect, your child may have or later develop:
    1. Shortness of breath during play or feeding.
    2. Rapid heart rate.
    3. Bluish colour of the tongue and fingernails.
    4. Poor growth.
    5. Repeated or frequent chest infections, cough and cold.

Is there anything that I should worry if my child has a heart murmur?

There are no complications in innocent heart murmurs.

If there is a heart problem, it depends on the type of problem your child has. Please consult your doctor.

Does the murmur need treatment?

  • No treatment is necessary for innocent heart murmurs.
  • If your child has a heart defect, he needs to be referred to a child specialist. Medications may be required for procedures (e.g. tooth extraction) or heart failure.
  • Surgery or transcatheter interventions are sometimes needed to correct certain heart problems.

Can a heart problem be detected at an earlier stage?

Some heart problems may be detected during pregnancy by a detailed ultrasound scan. This will determine if a child should be delivered at or near a hospital with cardiac services so that emergency treatment can be given if necessary.

Last reviewed : 26 April 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Lynster Liaw Chiew Tung
Reviewer : Dr. Sharifah Ainon bt. Ismail Mokhtar

 

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