• The Heart House

Common Questions

Are heart murmurs hereditary?

This depends on what caused the heart murmur. If it is an opening in the heart, a narrowing of a valve or a narrowing of a great artery it may be hereditary.

Is it possible my husband grew out of his heart murmur?

He may have had a small opening in his heart which may have closed on its own, so the sound which it was making (murmur) disappeared. Or, he may have had an innocent murmur, which became not audible, as his chest grew bigger.

How do doctors figure it out?

Your family doctor or pediatrician performs a detailed examination, and by listening to the heart murmur tries to determine whether it is innocent or not. If he thinks the heart murmur is serious, he may consult with a pediatric cardiologist.

The emergency room doctor found that my son has a heart murmur, although his pediatrician for five years never told us that he heard a murmur. What is going on?

If your child was having fever at the time of the ER visit, this may explain the murmur, which usually disappears after the fever subsides. Discuss the situation with your pediatrician. If the heart murmur is still present, this may warrant a referral to a Pediatric Cardiologist.

What is a Pediatric Cardiologist?

A pediatric cardiologist is a medical doctor who manages heart problems in children up to 21 years of age. His training includes 6-7 years in medical school, 3-4 years in pediatrics, and 3-4 years specialty in normal and abnormal heart development. He may perform certain tests such as an EKG or ECHO (Heart Ultrasound) to conclude if the heart murmur is innocent or not.

When the Pediatric Cardiologist was explaining the defect in my son's heart, most of what he said I couldn't understand!

I think a general summary of the heart structure may help ease the situation. Click here to visit the Heart House and learn how the heart works.

How do I know if my child should see a Pediatric Cardiologist?

Take a look at this Heart Murmur Plan of Action Flow Chart. It will help you determine if your child should see a Pediatric Cardiologist.

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Contact Us

Children's Heart Institute

P. O. Box 10066 McLean, VA 22102

Central Registration (patient appointments):

phone - 703-481-5801

Billing Inquiries:

phone - 571-612-2600 /  fax - 571-266-4096