When your child’s doctor detects a heart murmur, you want to know as soon as possible if there’s an underlying heart problem behind it.
Our pediatric cardiology specialists are among the most experienced at diagnosing heart murmurs in Orange County. Our UC Irvine Health team uses the best imaging technology available in pediatric care to evaluate your child’s murmur and determine its cause. An accurate diagnosis means that your child can quickly get the right treatment.
As faculty members with the area’s only academic medical center, we are leaders in developing new treatments for the conditions that may be causing heart murmurs.
What is a heart murmur?
A heart murmur is often described as a “whooshing” noise during a heartbeat. A normal heartbeat has two sounds; a murmur is an extra sound that doctors can hear through a stethoscope.
If your child’s doctor hears a heart murmur, it may not be cause for concern. Some heart murmurs are harmless and do not require treatment. Others may indicate an underlying heart problem, often caused by a birth defect of the heart.
What causes heart murmurs?
In children, so-called innocent heart murmurs may be temporary and triggered by certain conditions, such as anemia (low red blood cell count). These types of heart murmurs may resolve over time and are not dangerous to your child’s health.
Abnormal heart murmurs are often caused by structural heart problems. These include:
Diagnosing heart murmurs: What to expect
Your child’s evaluation depends on his or her age, symptoms and type of murmur, and includes one or more of the following steps:
- Medical history: Your doctor asks questions to get a complete picture of your family’s health history.
- Heart examination: The doctor listens carefully to the heart murmur to hear how loud it is, how long it lasts and whether it has a high or low tone.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG): This noninvasive test gives us a record of the heart’s electrical activity using probes placed on the chest.
- Echocardiogram: This noninvasive test uses sound waves to take images that show the heart's structure and how well it’s working.
These tests help your doctor pinpoint the cause of the murmur. Learn more about our advanced cardiac imaging services ›
Heart murmur treatment
Once we determine the cause of your child’s murmur, we spend time answering all of your questions.
We want to make sure you have all the information you need to make the best decision for your child. We work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your child’s unique health needs. This could include, in order from most common to least common:
- Determining that the heart murmur is innocent and that no further care is needed
- Monitoring the heart murmur with regular office visits
- Prescribing medications to manage conditions that may be causing the murmur
- Scheduling surgery to repair the heart or valves
For more information or to make an appointment, please call 714-581-4401 or 855-563-5320.