During every visit to Alzein Pediatric Associates, be it a regular check-up or an appointment for an illness, we listen to our young patient’s heart. We’ll listen in a variety of spots across the chest and back for that familiar “lub dub” that indicates a healthy heart. In growing children, we’ll often hear an extra sound, which is known as a heart murmur.
For many parents, hearing that their child has a heart murmur can be upsetting, as they imagine a drastic lifestyle change or managing a chronic condition. Knowing the truth about murmurs can calm fears and clear up confusion.
In fact, many children have a heart murmur at some point of their lives. As blood flows normally from atrium to ventricle to atrium to ventricle in a young, healthy heart, there may be sounds beyond that “lub dub.” These “innocent” or “functional” heart murmurs may come and go throughout childhood, depending upon your child’s position while being examined, any fevers, or heart rate. These murmurs pose no health threat and will disappear as your child grows. Innocent heart murmurs do not require medication, special diets or activity limitations.
Heart murmurs can be, occasionally, symptoms of more serious heart issues such as valve abnormalities, heart muscle disorders and congenital heart defects. Septal defect, a hole in the heart’s septum, may close on its own but does require regular monitoring. Symptoms of serious illnesses include, in infants, rapid breathing, difficulty feeding, failure to thrive and cyanosis or blueness in the lips. Older children may experience chest pains, unusual fatigue, and difficulty when doing physical activities.
When there is any indication that a murmur is more than innocent or other symptoms are present, Alzein Pediatric Associates’ pediatric cardiologist Dr. Nida Yousef will perform a thorough examination and a pain-free, non-invasive echocardiogram to ensure a complete diagnosis.
Heart murmurs, for many children, can be an ordinary part of growing up. If you have any concerns about your child’s heart health or overall wellness, call us at 708-424-7600. We will be happy to answer your questions.