Heart Murmurs in Children
The heart is one of the most important organs in the human body, keeping blood flowing constantly to our lungs and bodies. While everyone’s heart has its own rhythm, most healthy hearts have a similar sound. When the heartbeat is interrupted by unusual sounds such as blowing, whooshing or rasping, it’s called a heart murmur. These sounds are caused by rough blood flowing through the valves or near the heart.
Innocent vs. Abnormal Pediatric Heart Murmurs
Heart murmurs in children are very common, with more than 50% of children experiencing heart murmurs at some point in their lives. Many times, these pediatric heart murmurs are not cause for concern. These so-called “innocent murmurs” can be caused by over-exercise, fatigue or iron deficiency. Innocent murmurs are often categorized as pulmonary flow murmurs, Still’s murmur, or venous hum.
Some heart murmurs in children can indicate congenial heart defects and are cause for concern. They require further medical attention. These abnormal murmurs can be caused by a variety of things, including stenosis (when the heart valves do not allow enough blood to flow) and regurgitation (when the heart valves do not close properly). The most common causes of abnormal heart murmurs in children are atrial septal defects (ASD), coarctation of the aorta, patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) and ventricular septal defect (VSD).
Diagnosis of Heart Murmurs in Children
When diagnosing a heart murmur in a child, the doctor may first ask questions about the family’s health history, and whether or not the child often exhibits symptoms like dizziness or pain in the chest. Some of the other symptoms your child may exhibit when they are experiencing a heart murmur include bluish skin color, distended neck veins, fainting, liver enlargement, swelling or weight gain.
The doctor will also consider whether the murmur occurs when the heart is resting or contracting, if it lasts through the heartbeat, when it is the loudest, and if it changes as the child moves. Sometimes, the doctor will order an X-ray to see if the child’s heart appears to be larger than normal, or an EKG may be performed to measure the electrical activity of the heart. From there, it can be determined whether the heart murmur is a result of a congenital heart defect and requires further medical attention.
Treatment of Heart Murmurs in Children
Some children may require heart murmur treatment such as cardiac surgery to fix damage to a heart valve, patch a hole in the heart, or stretch a blood vessel that is too narrow. In other cases, heart murmurs are not a serious problem, and the child can still run, jump, play and live an active, healthy life without needing heart murmur treatment.
Why Choose Nicklaus Children's Hospital?
Recognition and Outcomes Tell the Story
Ranked among the best in the nation for pediatric cardiology and heart surgery
The Heart Program provides care for more children with congenital heart disorders than any other hospital in Florida and has been ranked among the nation’s best for pediatric cardiology and heart surgery by U.S.News & World Report.
What’s more, The Heart Program has cardiovascular surgery outcomes that are among the very best in the nation, according to a U.S.News & World Report assessment conducted as part of the most recent ranking.
Nicklaus Children's Heart Program is a qualified participant in Aetna’s Institutes of Excellence™ network.
A Distinguished History of Saving Little Hearts
The first facility in Florida to perform pediatric open-heart surgery
During the 1960s, Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital, became the first facility in Florida to perform pediatric open-heart surgery. Over the years, the hospital has continued to build on this tradition of leadership and excellence in pediatric cardiology.
In 1995, Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital, recruited top cardiac physicians and surgeons in pediatric cardiology to oversee new services that included Florida’s first dedicated Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, a state-of-the-art Interventional Cardiac Catheterization Program, and, later, a Clinical Research Program and Electrophysiology Program.
The Ultimate in High-Tech Meets High-Touch
Our outcomes for children with congenital heart defects that are among the best in the world.
The Heart Program offers the most advanced diagnostic, surgical and interventional techniques and equipment for treatment and management of pediatric cardiovascular conditions. The pediatric cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology laboratories are the most technologically advanced in existence, allowing The Heart Program to offer children the latest innovations.
While in this high-tech arena, children and their families are at the center of a multidisciplinary medical effort. They are surrounded by a team of doctors, nurses and staff who know, through years of experience, just how to meet the special needs of the tiniest patients, as well as how to support families in managing the stress of having a child in a critical-care setting.
Most recently, the team began using three-dimensional printing technology to plan surgical interventions for children with complex heart anomalies. The Heart Program at Nicklaus Children's Hospital is believed to be the first in the region to print a life-size heart model of a patient with a complex congenital heart defect. 3D printing allows for more research and planning in complex cases, increasing new possibilities for heart repair.
Latest Heart Program News
A four-month old baby is preparing to celebrate her first Christmas with her family after a life-saving heart surgery at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, made possible with the aid of virtual-reality imaging.
The Heart Program at Nicklaus Children's will host a Medical Conference on technology and innovation in the treatment of pediatric heart disease.
The hospital’s use of 3D printing technology has proven to be instrumental in creating surgical solutions for children with complex congenital heart defects, who had been considered to be inoperable using conventional imaging techniques.