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Heart Murmurs: When Are They Innocent?

When your doctor says your child has an "innocent" heart murmur, do not become alarmed. An innocent murmur is just what the name implies - innocent and normal. These murmurs are very common in children and will never cause any problems in your child.

These murmurs are sometimes called a "functional murmur," "physiologic murmur" or "vibratory murmur."

Innocent murmurs are sounds made by blood flowing through normal heart chambers, heart valves and blood vessels near your child’s heart. Your pediatrician can hear these murmurs by listening to your child's heart through a stethoscope. It is normal for your child's heart rate to increase during times of excitement and fear, or when an infection with a fever is present. It is easier to hear an innocent heart murmur when your child’s heart is beating faster.

Your pediatrician may recommend a consultation with a pediatric cardiologist (heart specialist). A chest x-ray and cardiogram are usually done to complete the evaluation. The cardiologist may perform an echocardiogram to visualize the heart chambers and valves. The echocardiogram is done to confirm the presence of a normal heart.

If the cardiologist agrees your child has an innocent heart murmur, no further tests will need to be performed. Your child does not have any heart disease. An innocent heart murmur does not require any treatment. You do not need to pamper or restrict your child’s diet or activities.

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