223517 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Atrial Septal Defect

    (ASD; “Hole” in the Heart)

    Definition

    The atria are the the upper chambers of the heart. An atrial septal defect (ASD) is a hole in the wall between the left and right chambers of the atria. It is present at birth.
    Blood passes from the left atrium to the right atrium in babies born with ASD. This eventually can cause problems in the lungs.
    ASD occurs in about four out of every 100,000 babies. Those with minor-to-moderate defects may not suffer any complications or symptoms. Very small ASDs close on their own about 90% of the time. Those with more severe defects may have disabilities later in life.
    Heart Chambers and Valves
    heart anatomy
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

    Causes

    ASD is a congenital defect. This means that it occurs during fetal development. It is present at birth. Some cases may be caused by a genetic defect or abnormality inherited from a parent. Others can be caused by illnesses suffered by the mother during pregnancy.
    Most of the time, the cause is unknown.

    Risk Factors

    There are no known risk factors for this condition because the cause is largely unknown.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms include:
    • Tiring easily during activity
    • Sweating
    • Rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath
    • Ongoing respiratory infections
    • Poor growth
    • Irregular, rapid beating of the heart
    • Poor appetite
    People with minor-to-moderate defects may show no symptoms. They may not begin to show symptoms until later in life.

    Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Treatment

    Small defects that produce few or no symptoms may not require treatment. Many defects may close on their own without treatment. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:

    Surgery

    Surgery may be needed in patients with large defects if they cause significant symptoms.
    A new procedure may also be performed. It closes the opening without surgery. A heart catheter is inserted in the inner part of the thigh. A closure device is inserted through this catheter.

    Antibiotics

    Antibiotics may be prescribed for six months after some surgeries. You will need to take an antibiotic before you have dental work or other procedures. In most cases, patients do not need to take antibiotics before procedures. There are some exceptions.

    Prevention

    The condition is a congenital defect with unknown causes. There are no preventive measures. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications

    RESOURCES

    American Heart Association http://www.heart.org/

    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Diseases Institute http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/index.html

    CANADIAN RESOURCES

    Canadian Cardiovascular Society http://www.ccs.ca

    Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada http://www.heartandstroke.com/

    References

    Antibiotic prophylaxis. American Dental Association website. Available at: http://www.ada.org/2157.aspx . Accessed November 10, 2012.

    Atrial septal defects (ASD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed . Updated June 6, 2012. Accessed November 10, 2012.

    Atrial septal defect. KidsHealth.org website. Available at: http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/medical/heart/asd.html . Updated August 2010. Accessed November 10, 2012.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.