Background: The phenomenon of cardiac nondisease was first reported in 1967 to call attention to the fact that some children were being restricted from their normal activities because their parents believed that they had a heart problem when, in fact, the child's heart was perfectly normal. This influential article and others have suggested that there may be significant morbidity in children who have been found to have innocent cardiac murmurs.
Methods: Parents of 71 schoolchildren were interviewed 1 to 5 years after their child had been examined by a pediatric cardiologist. Parents were asked about the presence of a family history of heart disease, their recall of the diagnosis and recommendations made by the cardiologist, and their level of satisfaction with the visit to the cardiologist. Parents were extensively questioned for evidence of restriction of the child's activities and for the presence of a belief that their child's murmur was something to still be concerned about.
Results: None of the parents reported restricting their child's activity, but 12 (17%) were still concerned about the murmur. A statistically significant relationship between parents reporting being less than "very satisfied" with the visit to the cardiologist and the presence of concern was found (P = .0006 by chi 2, Yates' correction). No other associations were noted.
Conclusion: The association with a lower degree of satisfaction suggests that communication issues are relevant to the presence of lingering parental concern. Because the parents of a child with an innocent murmur may consider him or her to be "vulnerable," primary care physicians should follow up with parents of children referred to pediatric cardiologists for evaluation of a murmur so that any potential misunderstandings can be clarified.