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Heart Murmurs in Infants

Heart Murmurs in Infants

Heart murmur is the extra sound other than the normal sound of the heartbeat. Many parents get panicked when their babies have a heart murmur. Most of the time, it does not have any effect on the child's health. This article provides information regarding the same.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
The heart is divided into four chambers such as left ventricle, left atrium, right ventricle, and right atrium. The chambers are divided by the heart wall. Blood flows into the atria of the heart through veins and moves into the ventricles. It then flows out through the arteries. The flow of blood inside the heart is kept in check by the valves. The valves open and close as the blood flows inside the heart. When the valves between the atria and the ventricles and the valves between the ventricles and major arteries close, they make a sound which is known as the normal heart sound. Any extra or abnormal sound is called heart murmur.
Causes and Symptoms
Around 85 percent of babies exhibit heart murmur during the first 24 hours after birth. It disappears within the next 48 hours. Babies do not breathe when they are inside the mother's uterus. When they are born, the blood flow to the lungs causes the veins to grow and the turbulence of the blood flow produces murmuring sound of the heart. Most of the time, blood flow through the valves can be audible. This is because some infants may have a faster heart rate, causing the blood to flow at a higher speed. This speed produces a sound, which is heard as a murmur.
Older children can also have heart murmurs, which tend to come and go. Few children have chest walls which are thinner, thus these sounds become more audible. They are known as innocent murmurs. Parents need not worry about such murmurs since they are not caused by heart defects. A few murmurs can also be caused by stress, fear, anemia, or fever. The narrow blood vessels can also cause the murmuring sound.
There are a few murmurs which are termed as pathological heart murmurs. These are seen in children with ventricular septal defects, that is, they have a hole in the wall, separating two chambers of the heart. The flow of blood through this hole causes the murmuring sound. The other kind of defect that can cause pathological murmur is a hole between the valves of the heart. These type of heart condition may require a surgery.
The innocent heart murmurs mostly do not show any symptoms. They do not cause any effect on the heart. The pathological murmurs have the symptoms, which include shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pains, palpitations and congestion of the lungs.
Treatment
A doctor can listen to the heartbeat of the infant using a stethoscope to diagnose heart murmur, if any. Any abnormal sound other than the normal heartbeats can indicate an innocent murmur.
When a loud murmur is heard, it may require further tests. X-rays are carried out to check heart defects and an electrocardiogram is necessary to check if the heart is beating normally. Echo cardiograms are used to record the pattern of reflected sound and diagnose heart murmurs.
Innocent murmurs do not require further treatment. Pathological murmurs also do not require treatment unless they are very serious. In such cases, heart surgery may be required. In very rare situations, the murmuring of the heart can develop into serious heart problems, which may also lead to death.
Innocent murmurs are the normal sounds, which will lessen over the years. They become less audible as the chest wall thickens and the heart rate slows down. Your child will be perfectly normal and have a healthy childhood. The pathological murmurs will be taken care of by the cardiac pediatrician, and he will ensure your kid's health.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.