Heart murmurs are all to do with the sound of your heartbeat.
You know the sound of your heartbeat: it goes lub-dub, lub-dub.
The “lub” is when the valves that control blood flow from the upper chambers to the lower chambers close.
Then, as the valves controlling blood going out of the heart close, your heart goes “dub.”
In some people, there’s an extra noise that the blood makes as it flows through the heart.
It sounds sort of like the noise of water flowing through a hose.
This sound is called a murmur.
More than half of all children have a heart murmur at some point in their lives and most murmurs don’t mean anything is wrong.
However, sometimes they are a sign of a problem with the heart.
Are there different types of heart murmurs?
Yes, there are. Grade 1 is the softest-sounding murmur, whilst Grade 6 is the loudest.
A murmur graded 4, 5, or 6 is so loud you can actually feel a rumbling from it under the skin if you put your hand on the person’s chest.
Murmurs can be quiet or loud depending on what you’re doing.
Murmurs can get louder when the blood is moving faster, like when you’re running around and then quieten when you’re at rest.
Even though most murmurs do not mean anything is wrong, sometimes a heart problem can cause a murmur.
The heart may have a hole in it, a valve may be leaking, or a valve may not open all the way.
If your doctor thinks your heart murmur could be due to a heart problem, you might need to see a special doctor who knows a lot about children’s hearts. They can give you advice on eating healthily and keeping active to help to strengthen your heart.
In some cases, surgery is necessary to fix the problem.
Depending on the problem, doctors can patch a hole in the heart, fix a valve, rebuild a blood vessel, or stretch open a blood vessel that’s too narrow.
The good news is most of the time, a heart murmur isn’t a big problem. Most kids with heart murmurs can run, jump and play just like everybody else!
A heart murmur is simply a sound. Some people say it’s just your heart whistling while it works.
They’ll be finding out all about the cool stuff that goes on inside your heart and how it manages to pump blood around your body all the time – even when you’re asleep!
You can listen to Professor Hallux on:
Professor Hallux’s Heart Beat funding thanks to a Heart Research UK healthy heart grant!