Heart Murmurs in Children
If a nurse or doctor hears a heart murmur when your child is born, or your child’s pediatrician hears a heart murmur during a regular checkup, you may panic. We are here to help. Children’s Heart Center can answer your questions and give your child the best possible care.
Fortunately, many heart murmurs are not caused by a heart problem, but it’s important to find out what is causing your child’s heart murmur. Our specialists can tell you what is causing the heart murmur and can advise you about what care, if any, your child needs. Please come see one of our specialists. We’re committed to making it easy for you to make an appointment quickly.
What Is a Heart Murmur?
A heart murmur is a sound made as blood circulates through the heart and nearby blood vessels. Heart murmurs are heard with a stethoscope during a regular exam. Many are innocent or benign, which means they are not caused by any problem with the heart structure or function, and they often go away with time as the child grows. Only a specialist can tell if your child’s heart murmur is part of a more serious condition.
A heart murmur is not a disease itself, but it may be a sign of a heart condition, such as:
- A structural heart problem, such as a congenital heart defect that is present at birth
- A leaking heart valve
- Damage from an infection such as endocarditis (an infection of the heart lining)
- Damage caused by Rheumatic fever (an immune disease that affects the heart)
Many pediatricians will be comfortable diagnosing a murmur as benign just by examining and listening to your child. However, it’s time to see one of our specialists if you or your pediatrician are concerned about the murmur, or if you child has any concerning symptoms such as:
- Pale, ashen, or blue skin from poor circulation or low oxygen levels
- Rapid breathing
- Fast heart rate
- Inability to keep up with others or play sports
- Difficulty feeding and poor growth
We will start by asking you questions about your child’s overall health. We also need to know about your family’s history of heart disease. Our pediatric cardiologist will carefully examine your child.
We may also do some of the following tests:
- Pulse oximetry— monitors the oxygen content of your child’s blood without drawing blood
- Chest X-ray—takes pictures of the your child’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels, and can show if the heart is enlarged
- Electrocardiogram (EKG)—noninvasive procedure that shows electrical activity by placing stickers on your child’s chest
- Echocardiogram—a safe, noninvasive procedure that uses high frequency ultrasound to show the structure of your child’s heart, how blood flows through the heart, and overall how your child’s heart and circulatory system are working
How We Treat Heart Murmurs
If your child’s murmur is not caused by any structural or functional heart problem, then no treatment will be necessary. Children with benign or innocent murmurs require no medication or therapies.
However, heart murmurs can be caused by a variety of conditions. If we diagnose a heart condition as the cause of your child’s heart murmur, we will base treatment on what is needed due to that condition.
Our Alliance with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
Children’s Heart Center—an alliance between Mount Sinai and Children Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)—we bring together our specialists and the doctors from CHOP, nationally ranked according to U.S. News & World Reports. While you and your child can stay here in New York City, we ensure that you can consult with CHOP doctors.
The pediatric cardiologists at CHOP are also able to offer you a secondary, independent opinion through video conferencing so that you don’t have to leave New York to speak to another specialist.
Why Choose Children’s Heart Center?
At the Mount Sinai Children’s Heart Center, we will make it easy to schedule a timely appointment for your child to be seen by one of our specialists. We will carefully examine your child in a calm and welcoming setting. Your pediatric cardiologist will review their findings with you at the end of your visit and discuss what care, if any, is necessary.
With two teaching hospitals at your service, we provide the best quality of care for your child. Our doctors are committed to boosting outcomes to ensure great results for your child. We are constantly growing our expertise through this alliance.