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What is an Innocent Heart Murmur?

Mary McMahon
Updated: Feb 08, 2024

An innocent heart murmur is a variation in heart sound that is not associated with any increased risks or medical problems for the patient. Although people often associate heart murmurs with danger, in the case of an innocent murmur, the condition is harmless and will often come and go over time. Many people have them at some point as children, and they resolve by adulthood. Common causes of innocent heart murmurs include small variations in the structures around the heart, pregnancy, and high fever.

A doctor will be able to hear an innocent heart murmur during an examination. In addition to the expected heart sounds, the patient may have a wooshing or swishing noise. During the examination, the doctor will ask about symptoms associated with more serious heart murmurs, like shortness of breath and fatigue. Usually, the doctor can tell a murmur is innocent from the sound and the patient's answers to questions, but imaging studies of the heart and electocardiograms can be ordered as well to collect more information.

A person with an innocent heart murmur can experience strange heart sounds after exercise or in response to stress, but they are not dangerous. Activity levels do not need to be decreased or altered and patients do not need to follow any special dietary recommendations or take medications. Commonly, the murmur is the result of turbulence in the blood flow, like in pregnancy, where blood volume decreases, and during heavy exercise, when the heart is working hard to pump blood to the extremities and provide the muscles with the oxygen they need.

When a doctor diagnoses an innocent heart murmur, information can be provided about the nature of the condition, and it will be noted in the patient's chart so other care providers know it has been identified and evaluated. In families with a history of heart conditions, it can be alarming to hear about an innocent heart murmur, but it is important to be aware that the patient will be carefully examined for any signs of malignancy or complications to confirm the innocence of the murmur.

People who know they have innocent heart murmurs may want to mention it to new doctors or people like medical providers responding to an emergency so they know the sound is normal and has been noted and discussed. This can help allay concerns when people are treating a patient for the first time or providing care under adverse conditions, like in a medical emergency.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By burcidi — On Jul 31, 2013

@anamur-- Innocent heart murmurs in children are very common. Both of my kids had it when they were young and they both grew out of it.

If the heart murmur was serious, the doctor would have told you about it. More serious heart murmurs are not labeled as "innocent" and require diagnostic testing to find the root of the problem. An innocent heart murmur is very faint and doesn't cause any complications.

I don't think you need to follow up, unless your daughter's doctor asks you to.

By serenesurface — On Jul 30, 2013

Does anyone have a child with a heart murmur?

We just found out that our daughter has it. Will it go away as she gets older? Should we take her for regular check-ups just in case?

By SarahGen — On Jul 30, 2013

My doctor during college had mentioned that I have a innocent heart murmur during a routine physical. He wasn't worried about it at all and said that it's no big deal. He did ask me if my family members have any heart issues though.

It's been ten years since this incident and I haven't had another doctor mention it to me, so I'm guessing that the murmur has disappeared.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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