Capital Pediatric Cardiology

Heart Murmurs

Heart Murmurs services offered throughout Central California

Heart murmurs occur in 75% of newborns and 66% of children, even though their heart is healthy. But murmurs can also be a red flag signaling a serious problem, so they should always undergo a thorough assessment by the board-certified physicians at Capital Pediatric Cardiology. The team offers expert care at 10 office locations in Sacramento, Roseville, Modesto, Placerville, Cameron Park, Stockton, Chico, Anderson, and Reading, California. To schedule an appointment, call the nearest office or request one online today.

What are heart murmurs?

Heart murmurs are unusual or extra sounds that occur as blood flows through the heart or the blood vessels around the heart. Most heart murmurs are discovered during a routine checkup when your pediatrician listens to your child’s heart. Then they refer you to the caring specialists at Capital Pediatric Cardiology for a full evaluation.

What causes heart murmurs?

In most cases, your child’s heart is perfectly healthy. This condition, called an innocent murmur, seldom needs treatment because it improves.

Innocent heart murmurs often occur as a result of the following:

  • Fever
  • Stress
  • Anemia
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Rapid growth phase

Serious heart murmurs (pathologic murmurs) reflect a problem affecting the heart’s function. The most common causes are congenital heart diseases, such as defective heart valves, a hole in the heart’s inner walls, and blood vessel problems.

What are the symptoms of a heart murmur?

Innocent heart murmurs seldom cause symptoms. If your child has an underlying heart condition, they may experience the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blue-tinted nails
  • Bluish tint around the lips
  • Poor appetite
  • Fatigue and inability to exercise
  • Cough that doesn’t improve
  • Heavy sweating (when not active)
  • Swelling or weight gain

Infants and young children may not grow or thrive as expected for healthy children.

How do cardiologists diagnose the cause of heart murmurs?

Though a heart murmur is easily diagnosed by listening through a stethoscope, finding the underlying cause requires additional diagnostic testing.

Your Capital Pediatric Cardiology provider may order:

  • Blood tests
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG)
  • Echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart)
  • Chest X-ray or CT scan
  • Diagnostic cardiac catheterization

A diagnostic cardiac catheterization is a minimally invasive procedure to measure the pressure inside the heart’s chambers.

How are heart murmurs treated?

Your child’s treatment depends on the condition causing the murmur. Your Capital Pediatric Cardiology provider may recommend monitoring the condition (if it’s expected to improve as your child grows). Otherwise, heart conditions may need medication and/or a therapeutic cardiac catheterization to repair the problem.

During therapeutic cardiac catheterization, your skilled provider guides a long narrow tube through the blood vessels and into your child’s heart. Then they use instruments in the tip of the catheter to repair the heart. 

The compassionate team at Capital Pediatric Cardiology frequently diagnoses and treats heart murmurs. If your child needs help, call the nearest office or request an appointment online today.