Indexed on: 10 Jun '14Published on: 10 Jun '14Published in: Cardiology in the young
Heart murmurs are common in children. The majority are detected incidentally, and congenital heart disease is rare. There are no published United Kingdom guidelines for management of children with murmurs in primary care. Common practice is to refer all children for specialist assessment.To review outcomes of children with heart murmurs who were referred by general practitioners to a clinic conducted by a paediatrician with expertise in cardiology. Design and setting A retrospective review of children referred by general practitioners to a paediatrician with expertise in cardiology.Hospital records of all children under 17 years of age who attended the clinic during 2011 were reviewed. We excluded children previously seen by any cardiology service.There were 313 new primary care referrals, with complete records available for 310 children. Of them, 186 (60%) were referred with a murmur: 154 for an asymptomatic murmur alone, and 32 for a murmur plus additional symptoms or family history of congenital heart disease. All underwent echocardiography. Of the patients, 38 (20%) had congenital heart disease. Younger children were more likely to have congenital heart disease. There was no difference between rates of congenital heart disease in children with or without symptoms or a family history.The finding that a large proportion of children referred by general practitioners with asymptomatic heart murmurs have congenital heart disease supports current referral practice on clinical grounds.