How dangerous are heart murmurs?

Q: My baby was diagnosed with a heart murmur. Should I be worried?

A: Pediatricians often detect heart murmurs (a swirling or whooshing sound heard between the heartbeats) in young children, but many murmurs are not serious. If your pediatrician detects a murmur, he may refer you to a cardiologist to be certain, since it can sometimes be hard to pick up on the differences between an innocent murmur, which is a normal sound, and a more serious one, which can indicate your baby was born with an abnormality in his heart. But even if a congenital heart defect is found, you should know that most are not life-threatening and don't require invasive surgery to repair. In fact, some, like a ventricular septal defect (or VSD, which is a hole in the tissue between the heart's right and left sides) tend to go away on their own as the child grows.

Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.

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