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Cardiovascular Alterations

It is essential to understand the typical structure and function of the cardiovascular system because alterations occur. Some changes can be pathologic and others not. Alhadheri (2005) states that 50 to 90 percent of children have a benign or functional murmur. In this post, I will explain how I would diagnose and prescribe treatment for the patient in the scenario, including how genetics impacts the diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Making a proper diagnosis is necessary before allowing the teenager to engage in sports. The patient had no significant family history of cardiac death and an unremarkable medical history. The lack of patient medical history leads me to conclude that the problem is not acquired, but congenital. The physical assessment is not enough information to definitively determine the etiology of the murmur. It would be wise to run additional tests to rule out a pathological murmur. Appropriate tests include a chest x-ray, electrocardiogram, blood work, and echocardiogram (Alhadheri, 2005). The patient is asymptomatic, so I would order an echocardiogram looking for structural abnormalities. I suspect that the patient has mitral regurgitation based on the location and description of the sound in the scenario. Hammer and McPhee (2019) state that a murmur can be heard best at the apex of the heart with mitral regurgitation. Another possibility is coarctation of the aorta, but this is unlikely because the patient does not have diminished blood pressure nor pulses in the lower extremities. If mitral regurgitation is the case, the treatment may be surgical intervention. Either way, I would refer the patient for treatment to a pediatric cardiologist knowing that it is outside of my scope. A registered nurse practitioner is required to make a referral to a physician for a patient condition that is beyond their knowledge or experience (Arizona State Board of Nursing, 2018, p. 46).


Genetics could impact the diagnosis. There is a high incidence of congenital heart defects with trisomies 13 and 18, Turner syndrome, and Down syndrome (Huether & McCance, 2017). The diagnosis could be a ventricular septal defect instead. However, I do not think the treatment would change if genetics were a factor. Usually, surgery is the intervention when the problem is pathological regardless of origin. 


Alhadheri, S. A. (2005). Children with Heart Murmurs…When to be Concerned?. Retrieved from

Arizona State Board of Nursing. (2018, May 23). Rules of the State Board of Nursing. Retrieved June 24, 2019, from

Hammer, G. D., & McPhee, S. J. (2019). Pathophysiology of disease: An introduction to clinical medicine (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Huether, S. E., & McCance, K. L. (2017). Understanding pathophysiology (6th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

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