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Everything about atrial septal defect (ASD)

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Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) – A Treatable Defect!

ASD or atrial septal defect or hole in the heart is a congenital (congenital) heart defect. With ASA there is a hole in the septum. A septum is a muscular wall that separates the two atria (upper chambers of the heart). An ASD occurs when that muscle wall or septum doesn’t develop properly. Through this hole, some oxygen-rich blood flows from the left atrium into the right atrium and mixes with oxygen-depleted blood. It increases the amount of blood that flows through the lungs. While small defects can be mistakenly diagnosed and never cause a problem, a large and longstanding ASD can seriously damage both the heart and lungs.

What are the most common causes of an atrial septal defect (ASD)?

Every child has an opening between the upper chambers of the heart (atria) at the time of birth. This opening allows blood to flow through during the development of a fetus. It is no longer needed after the birth and usually closes on its own within a few weeks or months.

But sometimes this opening is not closed, which leads to the atrial septal defect. The cause of most ASA is still unknown. However, in some cases it may be due to genetic problems.

What are the most common signs and symptoms of an atrial septal defect (ASD)?

The signs and symptoms of ASA depend largely on the size of the opening. Children with small defects may not have any noticeable signs and symptoms because there is no additional stress on the heart and lungs.

The signs and symptoms of major defects can include:

  1. Recurrent lung or respiratory infections
  2. Difficulty breathing
  3. Shortness of breath on exertion
  4. A heart murmur that can be heard by doctors with a stethoscope
  5. Swelling in the feet or abdomen
  6. stroke

What risk factors can increase the risk of having a baby with atrial fibrillation?

Some conditions during pregnancy can increase the risk of your baby having a heart defect:

  1. Rubella infection during pregnancy
  2. Drug, tobacco, or alcohol use during pregnancy can harm the fetus
  3. Diabetes or lupus during pregnancy

How can doctors diagnose an atrial septal defect (ASD)?

A doctor can determine the defect during pregnancy or after the baby is born.

During pregnancy, the atrial septal defect can be detected on ultrasound.

After giving birth, a doctor can determine ASD by detecting a specific sound with a stethoscope. For further confirmation, doctors can prescribe tests such as 2D echo, chest X-ray, and EKG.

Is an atrial septal defect (ASD) curable?

Treatment of ASA depends on the age and the size of the location and the severity of the defect.

For very ASDs, a cardiologist may not recommend medical or surgical procedures and will recommend follow-up visits for observation.

If an atrial septal defect has not closed on its own by 4 to 5 years of age, a pediatric cardiologist may recommend procedures such as cardiac catheters or cardiac surgery.

During the cardiac catheterization exam, the surgeon inserts a catheter into a leg artery that leads to the heart and leads the tube into the heart to measure blood flow, oxygen levels, and pressure in the heart chambers. The surgeon positions an implant in the hole. This implant is flattened against the septum and permanently closes the opening.

If the atrial septal defect (ASD) is in an unusual position or if there are other heart defects besides the ASD, the catheter technology is not sufficient to close the defect. In such cases, the surgeon will perform heart surgery to close the defect.

How long does it take my child to recover from an operation or cardiac catheterization?

The cardiologist may recommend regular follow-up for a few weeks after an operation or cardiac catheterization exam to check the child’s progress. Doctors may do another echocardiogram to make sure the opening is completely closed.

Most children recover quickly from treatment. We can see an increase in diet and physical activity even within a few weeks of surgery.

However, if the child exhibits any of the symptoms below after an operation or cardiac catheterization, contact your doctor immediately.

  1. Difficulty breathing
  2. Bluish color around the lips, tongue, or mouth
  3. Weight loss
  4. Decreased activity level
  5. Inexplicable recurring fever
  6. Pain, tenderness, or leakage of pus from the incision site

Atrial septal defect (ASD) is a serious condition. But early diagnosis and treatment cannot prevent your child from leading a healthy and active life.

Dr. Dhananjay RS | Specialist – Cardiology – Adults, Cardiology – Pediatrics | SS Narayana Heart Center, Davangere

Thank You For Reading!


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