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A heart murmur is likely to occur in 72% children, at some point in their life, during childhood or adolescence, says an article on the National Center For Biotechnology Information. This might indicate a serious heart complication, which could be a result of congenital issues.

The heart either starts to beat faster or there is high blood flow through the valves. This leads to a whooshing sound, usually detected with a stethoscope. Be it for general knowledge or out of concern, here’s what pediatric cardiac surgeons say you should know about this condition.

Causes of Heart Murmur

There are two distinct kinds of heart murmur: innocent heart murmur and abnormal heart murmur. In the former, blood flows faster than normal through the valves. This usually requires no treatment and is caused by fever, physical activities or rapid growth phases.

The latter type commonly occurs when babies are born with structural problems in the heart. The main causes are septal defects, rubella infection during pregnancy, family history, holes in the heart, valve complications, endocarditis and rheumatic fever.The basic symptoms to look for are bluish lips and fingertips, dizziness, fainting, stunted or slow growth, chronic coughing, palpitations, feeding difficulties, excessive irritability and prominent neck veins.

Treatment of Heart Murmur

The condition can be detected through a chest X-ray, blood tests and electrocardiogram (ECG). The doctor will then recommend the appropriate treatment.

Medication

Most murmurs are usually innocent and can be efficiently treated with antibiotics, clopidogrel, statins, water pills and vasodilators. The doctor might also use anticoagulants and calcium channel blockers for ultimate relief from the symptoms.

Surgery

Depending on the condition of the child’s heart, the pediatric cardiac surgeon could suggest balloon valvuloplasty, annuloplasty, valve leaflet repair and valvular structural repair. In case of valve replacement, the child might have to undergo an open heart surgery. In this, the narrowed valve is replaced with a tissue valve or mechanical valve. Another method is transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), which is comparatively non-invasive. In this, the aortic valve is removed and a prosthetic valve is inserted through a small cut in the chest area. These procedures are only performed when the complications are beyond repair by medication.

Prevention of Heart Murmur

Preventing this condition could be difficult in case the murmur is caused by a congenital problem. However, lifestyle changes can make a huge difference to heart functions. They can lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, which would have a significant impact.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Get the child to exercise regularly for at least 40 minutes a day. 
  • Ensure a well-balanced, nutritious diet, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • If the teenager is experimenting with alcohol and smoking, help them eliminate these habits completely.
  • Take the child for regular checkups to ensure early detection.
  • Make sure they are well-rested to cut down on stress and anxiety, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Help them maintain healthy weight by indulging in fat free dairy products.

Additionally, if you notice any symptoms, contact your pediatrician immediately.

Pediatric cardiac surgeons can help manage the condition and improve cardiac health. The child will be able to lead a healthy life through early detection and treatment.

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