Whenever I send a child to a pediatric cardiologist to evaluate a heart murmur, I make three recommendations to the parents.

●Don’t discuss the referral with friends or family members until you’ve seen the cardiologist. Otherwise, there’s a good chance they will fill your head with stories about awful things that happened to other people’s children.

●Don’t go online to investigate heart murmurs or heart disease. This won’t get you any closer to the final diagnosis and will only increase your anxiety while you’re waiting to see the specialist. If you are very worried after being told about the referral, ask your doctor if he can expedite the visit by calling the cardiologist’s office for you.

●Call your pediatrician if you are told the murmur is abnormal or if you have any questions or concerns after seeing the cardiologist.

— Howard J. Bennett