Skip to content
  • Academics
  • Healthcare
  • MyWVUChart
  • Find a Doctor
  • Make an Appointment
  • Giving

Hope and Health

Your source to help with your family's health from WVU Medicine Children's

Hope & Health
Articles and Updates from WVU Medicine Children's

02/1/2024 | S. Grace Baldwin, MSN, APRN

What’s That Sound? Understanding Heart Murmurs in Kids

What is a Heart Murmur?

Heart murmurs are extra or unusual sounds heard during a heartbeat. A person’s heartbeat is usually steady, but sometimes the blood makes an extra noise as it moves through the heart. This is called a murmur.

Each heartbeat sounds like “lub-dub.” When an extra sound besides “lub-dub” is heard, it is called a heart murmur.

Sometimes these extra sounds are normal and no cause for concern, but other times a heart murmur is a sign of a heart problem.

How is a Heart Murmur Diagnosed?

Heart murmurs are diagnosed by healthcare providers like doctors and nurse practitioners.

A provider will listen to your child’s heart by placing a stethoscope on various areas of their chest. They can hear best if your child is very quiet while they listen.

Heart murmurs can be very quiet, very loud, or somewhere in between. Your child’s doctor will grade the murmur on a scale of one (very quiet) to six (the loudest).

What Causes Heart Murmurs?

Innocent Murmurs

Most heart murmurs in kids are innocent, meaning the blood is moving through the heart in a normal way.

An innocent heart murmur can come and go throughout childhood, but most go away as the child grows. It is common that a hurt murmur may be easier for doctors to hear when a child is sick.

Children with innocent heart murmurs require no treatment, activity restriction, diet changes, or medications.

Congenital or Acquired Heart Disease

Sometimes, a heart murmur is the first sign of a congenital heart defect (a problem with the structure of the heart) or acquired heart disease (a new problem within the heart that wasn’t there at birth).

If your child’s doctor suspects one of these, they may order more tests like a chest X-ray, EKG, or echocardiogram.

About one out of every 100 babies is born with a structural heart problem or congenital heart defect.

Some signs of serious heart problems in babies are rapid breathing, trouble feeding, blueness of the skin, and poor weight gain. Older children may experience chest pain, difficulty keeping up with activity, or be very tired.

You should call your child’s doctor if they are showing any of these signs.

What Should I do if My Child has a Heart Murmur?

If your child’s pediatrician diagnosed them with a heart murmur, you should not worry.
The pediatrician may ask you to see a pediatric cardiologist (a heart doctor for kids).

If the pediatric cardiologist has concern for a serious problem, they will order testing, like:

  • Chest X-ray: A picture of the chest, showing the heart, lungs, and surrounding areas
  • EKG: Stickers are placed on the chest that show the electrical activity in the heart
  • Echocardiogram: An ultrasound of the heart

These tests can all be performed at a WVU Medicine Children’s Heart Center Clinic.

The pediatric cardiologist will explain the test results. If your child has been diagnosed with a heart murmur and has an upcoming appointment at our Heart Center, learn more about what to expect here.

About the Author

S. Grace Baldwin is a pediatric nurse practitioner in the WVU Medicine Children’s Heart Center.

She is from Morgantown, West Virginia, and has cared for the children of our state as a nurse and nurse practitioner since 2013.

Baldwin has experience taking care of the sickest children in the Pediatric Cardiac Iintensive Care Unit, as well as children in outpatient settings. She is part of the High Risk Interstage Single Ventricle Program and is passionate about building trusting relationships with patients and their families. Baldwin especially loves watching “heart kids” grow up and being a part of their story from the start.

1 Medical Center Drive Morgantown, WV 26506

About Us


Patients & Visitors

© 2024 Copyright - West Virginia University Health System