Atrial Septal Defect

(ASD; “Hole” in the Heart)


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.
Heart Chambers and Valves
heart anatomy
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ASD 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 Factors

Factors that increase the risk of having a child with an atrial septal defect include:
  • Smoking by the mother during pregnancy
  • Down syndrome


Symptoms of atrial septal defect 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.


You 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: Your doctor may need to check the health of your arteries. This can be done with coronary angiography .

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