How to Determine the Severity of Heart Murmurs
Friday, January 31, 2014
Heart murmurs are extra or unusual sounds made by blood circulating through heart valves, or through blood vessels near the heart. Although they sound scary, most children with heart murmurs are fine, according to a Children’s National Health System’s Robin Doroshow, MD, a pediatric cardiologist in the Fetal Heart Program, which is part of Children’s National Heart Institute.
“The vast majority of children who have heart murmurs do not have heart disease. They just have a noise in their heart,” Dr. Doroshow said. “But there are many, many innocent murmurs, and most murmurs are not abnormal at all.”
In this video, Dr. Doroshow shares her insight on how pediatricians can distinguish the severity of heart murmurs when deciding whether to refer patients with heart murmurs to cardiologists. “Doctors are trained to listen for different murmurs and what might represent something significant, and which ones are likely innocent or normal,” Dr. Doroshow said.
She added that some mistakenly think children with a heart problem should be restricted in their activity. “There are only a small number of heart problems where the child should be actually restricted from doing something,” Dr. Doroshow said. “And in all the other heart problems they can do whatever they can do. We don’t want to single them out, and we don’t need to.”
About the Expert
Robin Doroshow, MD, is a cardiologist at the Children's National Health System and she specializes in fetal echocardiogram.