Atrial Septal Defect
(ASD; “Hole” in the Heart)
DefinitionThe 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.
|Heart Chambers and Valves|
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CausesASD is 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 FactorsFactors that increase the risk of having a child with an atrial septal defect include:
- Smoking by the mother during pregnancy
- Down syndrome
SymptomsSymptoms of atrial septal defect include:
- Tiring easily during activity
- Rapid breathing, difficulty breathing, or shortness of breath
- Ongoing respiratory infections
- Poor growth
- Irregular, rapid beating of the heart
- Poor appetite
DiagnosisYou will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A murmur may be heard when listening to the chest with a stethoscope.Your doctor may need pictures of your heart. This can be done with:
- Doppler image
- Cardiac catheterization
- Chest x-ray
- MRI of the heart —mostly done in adults
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