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Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)

Health 2

A "hole" in the wall that separates the top two chambers of the heart. This defect allows oxygen-rich blood to leak into the oxygen-poor blood chambers in the heart. ASD is a defect in the septum between the heart's two upper chambers (atria). The septum is a wall that separates the heart's left and right sides. 

Heart has two sides, separated by an inner wall called the septum. With each heartbeat, the right side of your heart receives oxygen-poor blood from your body and pumps it to your lungs. The left side of your heart receives oxygen-rich blood from your lungs and pumps it to your body. 

The septum prevents mixing of blood between the two sides of the heart. However, some babies are born with holes in the upper or lower septum. 

A hole in the septum between the heart's two upper chambers is called an atrial septal defect (ASD). A hole in the septum between the heart's two lower chambers is called a ventricular septal defect (VSD). 

ASDs and VSDs allow blood to pass from the left side of the heart to the right side. This means that oxygen-rich blood can mix with oxygen-poor blood. As a result, some oxygen-rich blood is pumped to the lungs instead of out to the body. 

Over the past few decades, the diagnosis and treatment of ASDs and VSDs have greatly improved. Children who have simple congenital heart defects can survive to adulthood and live normal, active, and productive lives because their heart defects close on their own or have been repaired. 

Atrial Septal Defect Complications

  • Right heart failure:An ASD causes the right side of the heart to work harder because it has to pump extra blood to the lungs. Over time, the heart may become tired from this extra work and not pump well.
  • Arrhythmias (ah-RITH-me-ahs):Extra blood flowing into the right atrium through an ASD can cause the atrium to stretch and enlarge. Over time, this can lead to arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats). Arrhythmia symptoms may include palpitations or a rapid heartbeat.
  • Stroke:Usually, the lungs filter out small blood clots that can form on the right side of the heart. Sometimes a blood clot can pass from the right atrium to the left atrium through an ASD and be pumped out to the body. This type of clot can travel to an artery in the brain, block blood flow, and cause a stroke.
  • Pulmonary hypertension (PH):PH is increased pressure in the pulmonary arteries. These arteries carry blood from your heart to your lungs to pick up oxygen. Over time, PH can damage the arteries and small blood vessels in the lungs. They become thick and stiff, making it harder for blood to flow through them.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Tiring easily during physical activity
  • Shortness of breath
  • A buildup of blood and fluid in the lungs
  • A buildup of fluid in the feet, ankles, and legs

Atrial Septal Defect (ASD)

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